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SIR    UVEDALE  PRICE 

ON  THE 

PICTURESQUE: 

WITH   AN   ESSAY   ON   THE   ORIGIN   OF  TASTE, 

AND   MUCH   ORIGINAL  MATTER, 

By   SIR   THOMAS   DICK  LAUDER,  Bart. 

AND  SIXTY  ILLUSTRATIONS,  DESIGNED  AND  DRAWN  ON  THE  WOOD, 
BY   MONTAGU   STANLEY,   R.  S.  A. 


EDINBURGH:   CALDWELL,   LLOYD,  AND  CO.; 
LONDON:   Wm.  S.  ORR   AND  CO. 

MDCCCXLII. 


,  IS 


TO 


GENERAL 
THE  RIGHT  HONOURABLE 

THE  EARL   OF  STAIR, 

BARON  OXENFORD  OF  COUSLAND, 

&c.   &c.  &c. 

My  dear  Lord  Stair, 

It  gives  me  very  great  pleasure  to  avail  myself  of 
this  opportunity  of  marking  the  deep  sense  I  entertain  of  the 
steady  friendship  with  which  you  have  so  long  honoured  me,  by 
requesting  you  to  accept  of  the  Dedication  of  this  Work,  from 

Your  most  sincerely  attached, 

THOs  DICK  LAUDER. 


PREFACE 

TO 

THE  FIRST  ESSAY. 


As  the  general  plan  and  intention  of  my  first  publication  have  been  a 
good  deal  misunderstood,  I  wish  to  give  a  short  account  of  them  both. 

The  title  itself  might  have  shown  that  I  aimed  at  something  more 
than  a  mere  book  of  gardening ;  some,  however,  have  conceived  that  I 
ought  to  have  begun  by  setting  forth  all  my  ideas  of  lawns,  shrubberies, 
gravel-walks,  &c. ;  and  as  my  arrangement  did  not  coincide  with  their 
notions  of  what  it  ought  to  have  been,  they  seem  to  have  concluded  that 
I  had  no  plan  at  all. 

I  have  in  this  Essay  undertaken  to  treat  of  two  subjects,  distinct  but 
intimately  connected ;  and  which,  as  I' conceive,  throw  a  reciprocal  light 
on  each  other.  I  have  begun  with  that  which  is  last  mentioned  in  the 
title,  as  I  thought  some  previous  discussion  with  regard  to  pictures  and 
picturesque  scenery  would  most  naturally  lead  to  a  particular  examina- 
tion of  the  character  itself.  In  the  first  chapter,  I  have  stated  the 
general  reasons  for  studying  the  works  of  eminent  landscape  painters, 
and  the  principles  of  their  art,  with  a  view  to  the  improvement  of  real 
scenery ;  and  in  order  to  show  how  little  those  works,  or  the  principles 
they  contain,  have  been  attended  to,  I  have  supposed  the  scenery  in  the 
landscape  of  a  great  painter,  to  be  new  modelled  according  to  the  taste 
of  Mr.  Brown.  Having  shown  this  contrast  between  dressed  scenery 
and  a  picture  of  the  most  ornamented  kind,  I  have  in  the  second  chap- 
ter compared  together  two  real  scenes ;  the  one,  in  its  picturesque  un- 


VIII 


I'KKKACK. 


improved  state  ;  the  other,  when  dressed  and  improved  according  to  the 
present  fashion.  The  picturesque  circumstances  detailed  in  this  scene, 
very  naturally  lead  me,  in  the  third  chapter,  to  investigate  their  general 
causes  and  effects;  and  in  that,  and  in  the  six  following  chapters,  I 
have  traced  them,  as  far  as  my  observation  would  enable  me,  through 
all  the  works  of  art  and  of  nature. 

This  part,  the  most  curious  and  interesting  to  a  speculative  mind, 
will  be  least  so  to  those  who  think  only  of  what  has  a  direct  and  im- 
mediate reference  to  the  arrangement  of  scenery.  That,  indeed,  it  has 
not ;  but  it  is  a  discussion  well  calculated  to  give  just  and  enlarged 
ideas,  of  what  is  of  no  slight  importance — the  general  character  of  each 
place,  and  the  particular  character  of  each  part  of  its  scenery.  Every 
place,  and  every  scene  worth  observing,  must  have  something  of  the 
sublime,  the  beautiful,  or  the  picturesque;  and  every  man  will  allow, 
that  he  would  wish  to  preserve  and  to  heighten — certainly  not  to  weaken 
or  destroy — their  prevailing  character.  The  most  obvious  method  of 
succeeding  in  the  one,  and  of  avoiding  the  other,  is  by  studying  their 
causes  and  effects ;  but  to  confine  that  study  to  scenery  only,  would, 
like  all  confined  studies  for  a  particular  purpose,  tend  to  contract  the 
mind  ;  at  least,  when  compared  with  a  more  comprehensive  view  of  the 
subject.  1  have  therefore  endeavoured  to  take  the  most  enlarged  view 
possible,  and  to*  include  in  it  whatever  had  any  relation  to  the  character 
I  was  occupied  in  tracing,  or  which  showed  its  distinction  from  those 
which  a  very  superior  mind  had  already  investigated;  and  sure  I  am, 
that  he  who  studies  the  various  effects  and  characters  of  form,  colour, 
and  light  and  shadow,  and  examines  and  compares  those  characters  and 
effects,  and  the  manner  in  which  they  are  combined  and  disposed,  both 
in  pictures  and  in  nature,  will  be  better  qualified  to  arrange — certainly 
to  enjoy — his  own  and  every  scenery,  than  he  who  has  only  thought  of 
the  most  fashionable  arrangement  of  objects ;  or  who  has  looked  at 
nature  alone,  without  having  acquired  any  just  principles  of  selection. 

I  believe,  however,  that  this  part  of  my  Essay,  and  the  very  title  of  it, 
may  have  given  a  false  bias  to  the  minds  of  many  of  my  readers.  I  am 
not  surprised  at  such  an  effect,  for  it  is  a  very  natural  conclusion,  and 
often  justified,  that  an  author  is  partial  to  the  particular  subject  on  which 
he  has  written  ;  but  mine  is  a  particular  case.   The  two  characters  which 


PREFACE. 


ix 


Mr.  Burke  has  so  ably  discussed,  had,  it  is  true,  great  need  of  investi- 
gation ;  but  they  did  not  want  to  be  recommended  to  our  attention : 
what  is  really  sublime,  or  beautiful,  must  always  attract  or  command 
it ;  but  the  picturesque  is  much  less  obvious,  less  generally  attractive, 
and  had  been  totally  neglected  and  despised  by  professed  improvers  : 
my  business,  therefore,  was  to  draw  forth  and  to  dwell  upon  those  less 
observed  beauties.  From  that  circumstance  it  has  been  conceived,  or 
at  least  asserted,  that  I  not  only  preferred  such  scenes  as  were  merely 
rude  and  picturesque,  but  excluded  all  others. 

The  second  part  is  built  upon  the  foundations  laid  in  the  first;  for  I 
have  examined  the  leading  features  of  modern  gardening,  in  its  more 
extended  sense,  on  the  general  principles  of  painting  ;  and  I  have  shown 
iu  several  instances,  especially  in  all  that  relates  to  the  banks  of  artifi- 
cial water,  how  much  the  character  of  the  picturesque  has  been  neglected, 
or  sacrificed  to  a  false  idea  of  beauty. 

But  though  I  take  no  slight  interest  in  whatever  concerns  the  taste 
of  gardening  in  this  and  every  other  country,  and  am  particularly  anxious 
to  preserve  those  picturesque  circumstances,  which  are  so  frequently  and 
irrecoverably  destroyed,  yet  in  writing  this  Essay,  I  have  had  a  more 
comprehensive  object  in  view.  I  have  been  desirous  of  opening  new 
sources  of  innocent  and  easily  attained  pleasures,  or  at  least  of  point- 
ing out  how  a  much  higher  relish  may  be  acquired  for  those,  which, 
though  known,  are  neglected  ;  and  it  has  given  me  no  small  pleasure  to 
find,  that  both  my  objects  have  in  some  degree  been  attained. 

That  painters  do  see  effects  in  nature  which  men  in  general  do  not 
see,  we  have,  in  the  motto  prefixed  to  this  Essay,  the  testimony  of  no 
common  observer  ;  of  one  who  was  sufficiently  vain  of  his  own  talents 
and  discernment  in  every  way,  and  not  likely  to  acknowledge  a  superi- 
ority in  other  men  without  strong  conviction.  It  is  not  a  mere  obser- 
vation of  Cicero  ;  it  is  an  exclamation:  Quam  multa  vident  pictores  ! 
It  marks  his  surprise  at  the  extreme  difference  which  the  study  of  na- 
ture, by  means  of  the  art  of  painting,  seems  to  make  almost  in  the  sight 
itself.  It  may  likewise  be  observed,  that  his  remark  does  not  extend 
to  form — in  which  the  ancient  painters  are  acknowledged  to  be  our 
superiors ;  not  to  colour — in  which  they  are  also  conceived  to  be  at 
lea.st  our  rivals  ;  but  to  light  and  shadow — the  supposed  triumph  of 


\ 


PREFACE. 


modern  dver  ancient  art  :  on  which  account,  the  professors  of  painting 
since  its  revival,  have  a  still  better  right  to  the  compliment  of  so  illus- 
trious ;i  panegyrist,  than  those  of  his  own  age. 

If  there  were  no  other  means  of  seeing  with  the  eyes  of  painters,  than 
by  acquiring  the  practical  skill  of  their  hands,  the  generality  of  man- 
kind must  of  course  give  up  the  point ;  but  luckily,  we  may  gain  no 
little  insight  into  their  method  of  considering  nature,  and  no  inconsider- 
able share  of  their  relish  for  her  beauties,  by  an  easier  process — by 
studying  their  works.  This  study  has  one  great  advantage  over  most 
others  ;  there  are  no  dry  elements  to  struggle  with.  Pictures,  as  likewise 
drawings  and  prints,  have  in  them  what  is  suited  to  all  ages  and  capa- 
cities ;  many  of  them,  like  Swift's  Gulliver's  Travels,  display  the  most 
fertile  and  brilliant  imagination,  joined  to  the  most  accurate  judgment 
and  selection,  and  the  deepest  knowledge  of  nature  ;  like  that  extra- 
ordinary work,  they  are  at  once  the  amusement  of  childhood  and  ignor- 
ance, and  the  delight,  instruction,  and  admiration,  of  the  highest  and 
most  cultivated  minds. 

It  is  not,  however,  to  be  supposed,  that  theory  and  observation  alone 
will  enable  us  to  judge  either  of  pictures  or  of  nature,  with  the  same 
skill  as  those  who  join  to  the  practical  knowledge  of  their  art  habitual 
reflection  on  its  principles,  and  its  productions.  Between  such  artists 
and  the  mere  lover  of  painting,  there  will  always  be  a  sufficient  differ- 
ence to  justify  the  remark  of  Cicero  ;*  but  by  means  of  the  study  which 
I  have  so  earnestly  recommended,  we  may  greatly  diminish  the  immense 
distance  that  exists  between  the  eye  of  a  first-rate  painter,  and  that  of 
a  man  who  has  never  thought  on  the  subject.  Were  it,  indeed,  possible 
that  a  painter  of  great  and  general  excellence  could  at  once  bestow  on 
such  a  man — not  his  power  of  imitating,  but  of  distinguishing  and  feel- 


*  There  is  an  anecdote  of  Salvator  Rosa,  which  shows  the  very  just  and  natural 
opinion  that  painters  of  eminence  entertain  of  their  superior  judgment  with  regard  to 
their  own  art :  it  is  also  highly  characteristic  of  the  lively  impetuous  manner  of  the 
artist  of  whom  it  is  related,  and  whose  words  might  no  less  justly  be  applied  to  real 
objects,  than  to  the  imitation  of  them.  Salvator  Rosa,  cssendoyli  mostrata  una  singolar 
pittura  da  tinjdiletiante9  che  insicmementc  in  estremo  la  lodava ;  egli,  con  tin  di  quei  suoi 
soliti  ffesti  spiritosi  eschnno  ;  O  pensa  quel  die  tu  diresti,  se  tu  la  vedessi  con  gli  acclii  di 
Salvator  Rosa ! 


PREFACE. 


xi 


ing  the  effects  and  combinations  of  form,  colour,  and  light  and  shadow 
— it  would  hardly  be  too  much  to  assert,  that  a  new  appearance  of 
things,  a  new  world  would  suddenly  be  opened  to  him ;  and  the  be- 
stower  might  preface  the  miraculous  gift  with  the  words  in  which  Venus 
addresses  her  son,  when  she  removes  the  mortal  film  from  his  eyes. 

Aspice,  namque  omnem  quae  nunc  obducta  tuenti 
Mortal es  hebetat  visus  tibi,  et  humida  circum 
Caligat,  nubem  eripiam. 


Vide  T.  190  — ' 


Waves  beating  in  upon  a  rocky  coast.. 


PREFACE 

TO  THE 

EDITION  OF  1810  OF  THE  FIRST  ESSAY. 


In  this  edition,  the  reader  will  find  some  considerable  additions  ;  but 
the  chief  difference  is  in  the  arrangement,  which  I  am  very  conscious 
was  in  many  parts  extremely  defective.  Several  of  the  chapters  in  the 
first  volume  are  entirely  new  modelled  ;  and  in  the  second,  a  great  deal 
of  new  arrangement  has  taken  place,  especially  in  the  middle  part  of 
the  last  Essay.  Those  readers  only — should  there  be  any  such — who 
may  have  the  curiosity  to  compare  the  present  with  former  editions,  can 
judge  of  the  pains  that  the  new  modelling  has  cost  me  ;  but  I  shall  think 
them  well  bestowed,  if  I  should  be  less  open  to  those  criticisms,  which 
must  have  presented  themselves  to  every  reader  of  a  methodical  turn  of 
mind.  Another  alteration,  which  I  trust  will  be  thought  an  improve- 
ment, is  that  of  throwing  the  greater  part  of  the  notes  to  the  end  of  the 
volumes.  One  note  of  much  greater  length  than  I  could  have  wished 
is  added  to  the  second  volume,  in  consequence  of  a  very  pointed  attack 
from  my  friend  Mr.  Knight,  in  the  second  edition  of  the  Analytical 
Inquiry  ;  it  is  indeed  almost  a  controversial  dissertation  on  the  temple 
of  Vesta,  usually  called  the  Sybil's  temple,  at  Tivoli.  I  am  persuaded, 
however,  that  I  have  made  no  small  amends  for  the  tediousness  of  con- 
troversy, by  some  very  curious  information  I  received  on  the  subject, 
the  accuracy  of  which  I  have  no  doubt  may  be  safely  relied  on.  The 
third  volume  remains  nearly  as  it  was,  with  scarcely  any  alteration  : 
there  is,  however,  one  addition  to  the  Dialogue  of  a  few  last  words,  by 


PREFACE. 


way  of  summing  up  the  points  of  the  controversy,  and  likewise  an  ap- 
pendix, which,  like  the  note  just  mentioned,  was  occasioned  by  some 
strictures  of  31  r.  Knight's  and  almost  equals  it  in  length.  I  am  still 
very  largely  in  ins  debt,  on  3ir.  Burke's,  as  well  as  on  my  own  account 
and  am  ashamed  of  being  so  long  in  arrears.  However  slow,  I  hope  at 
last  to  Leave  nothing  unpaid;  but  as  I  have  undertaken  the  defence  of 
such  a  man  as  Mr.  Burke,  I  feel  anxious  that  it  should  be  as  little  un- 
worthy of  him,  as  it  is  in  my  power  to  make  it. 


PREFACE 

TO 

THE  PRESENT  EDITION. 


The  text  of  this  Edition  will  be  found  to  correspond  accurately  with  that 
of  the  Edition  1810,  with  this  difference,  that  the  numerous  foot  notes 
which  there  occur,  to  the  great  inconvenience  of  the  reader,  have  been 
here  incorporated  with  the  text.  The  few  remarks  which  the  Editor 
has  ventured  to  make  in  his  own  person,  have  been  also  introduced  into 
the  text,  where  they  are  distinguished  by  brackets  and  the  letter  E. 


Vide  P  207,—"  Blair-Adam 


CONTENTS. 


PAGE 


Preface  to  the  First  Essay,   vii 

Preface  to  Edition  1810,   xiii 

Editor's  Preface,   xv 

Introductory  Essay  on  Origin  of  Taste— E.,   1-58 


CHAPTER  I. 

The  reasons  why  an  improver  should  study  pictures,  as  well  as  nature — The 
artist's  design  in  real  scenery  must  change  with  the  growth  and  decay  of  trees — 
The  only  unchanging  compositions  are  in  the  designs  of  painters — Distinction 
between  the  painter  and  the  improver — Between  looking  at  pictures,  merely 
with  a  reference  to  other  pictures,  and  studying  them  with  a  view  to  the  im- 
provement of  our  ideas  of  nature — The  general  principles  of  both  arts  the  same 
— The  manner  in  which  a  picture  of  Claude  would  probably  be  improved  by 
Mr.  Brown — Anecdote  of  an  improved  picture  of  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds — The 
Colonna,  Claude — Remarks  by  E.,  59-68 

CHAPTER  II. 

Causes  of  the  neglect  of  the  picturesque  in  modern  improvement — Intricacy 
and  variety,  characteristics  of  the  picturesque — Monotony  and  baldness  of  im- 
proved places — A  dressed  lane — A  lane  in  its  natural  and  picturesque  state — 
Near  the  house,  picturesque  beauty  must  often  be  sacrificed  to  neatness — Differ- 
ent ways  in  which  a  picturesque  lane  might  probably  be  improved — Examples 
of  two  lanes  that  have  been  improved — Remarks  by  E.,       ....  G9-76 

CHAPTER  III. 

General  meaning  of  the  word  picturesque — Mr.  Gilpin's  definition  of  it  examined 
— It  has  not  an  exclusive  reference  to  painting — The  beautiful  and  the  sublime 
have  been  pointed  out  and  illustrated  by  painting,  as  well  as  the  picturesque — 
Apology  for  making  use  of  the  word  picturesqueness — The  picturesque  as 
distinct  a  character  as  cither  the  sublime  or  the  beautiful — The  picturesque 
arises  from  qualities  directly  opposite  to  those  of  beauty — What  those  qualities 
are — Picturesque  and  beautiful  in  buildings — in  water — in  trees — in  animals — 
in  birds — in  the  human  species — in  the  higher  order  of  beings — in  painting — 


Remarks  by  E.,  77-8.0 

CHAPTER  IV. 

General  distinctions  between  the  picturesque  and  the  beautiful — Between  the 
picturesque  and  the  sublime — The  manner  in  which  they  operate  on  the  mind 
— Of  terror,  as  a  cause  of  the  sublime,  90-103 


xviii 


CONTENTS. 


CHAPTER  V. 

To  create  the  sublime  above  our  contracted  powers — The  art  of  improving  there- 
fore depends  on  the  beautiful  and  the  picturesque — Remarks  by  E. — Beauty  alone 
has  hitherto  been  aimed  at — But  they  are  seldom  unmixed  ;  and  insipidity  has 
arisen  from  trying  to  separate  them — Remarks  by  E. — Instance  of  their  mixture 
in  the  human  countenance — in  flowers,  shrubs,  and  trees — in  buildings — Illus- 
tration from  the  mixture  of  discords  with  the  most  flowing  melodies  in  music 
— Remarks  by  E.,       ...........  104-109 

CHAPTER  VI. 

it  has  been  doubted  by  some  whether  smoothness  be  essential  to  the  beautiful — 
Effects  of  smoothness,  and  of  roughness,  in  producing  the  beautiful  and  the 
picturesque,  by  means  of  repose  and  irritation — Remarks  by  E. — Exemplified 
in  scenery — Repose,  the  peculiar  characteristic  of  Claude's  pictures — Chai-acter 
of  the  pleasures  that  arise  from  irritation — Remarks  by  E. — Character  of  Rubens' 
light  and  shadow — of  Correggio's — of  Claude's — his  landscapes  compared  with 
those  of  Rubens — Illustration  from  the  different  characters  of  smiles — Character 
of  Rembrandt's  light  and  shadow — Anecdote  of  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds — Antique 
statues,  standards  of  grandeur  and  beauty — The  grandest  style  of  painting,  that 
of  the  Roman  and  Florentine  schools — The  Venetian  style,  the  ornamental,  or 
picturesque — Correggio's  style,  as  desci'ibed  by  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  might  justly 
be  called  the  beautiful  style — Each  style  of  painting  corresponds  with  the  cha- 
racteristic marks  of  the  grand,  the  beautiful,  and  the  picturesque  in  real  objects,  1 10-123 

CHAPTER  VII. 

Breadth  of  light  and  shadow — Twilight — Quotation  from  Milton — Its  effect  should 

be  studied  by  improvers — Difficulty  of  uniting  breadth  with  detail — Breadth 

alone  insufficient ;  but  preferabie  to  detail  without  breadth — Application  of  the 

principle  of  breadth  to  improvement — Objections  to  buildings  being  made  too 

white — Remarks  by  E. — Mr.  Walpole's  expression  of  the  gentleman  with  the 

foolish  teeth — Distinctness — Remarks  by  E.,    .       .       .       .       .       .  124-135 

i 

CHAPTER  VIII. 

On  the  beautiful,  and  what  might  be  called  the  picturesque  in  colour — Remarks 
by  E. — Why  autumn,  and  not  spring,  is  called  the  painter's  season — Blossoms, 
which  are  so  beautiful  near  the  eve,  have  a  spotty  appearance  in  the  general 
landscape — The  first  requisite  of  a  picture  is  to  be  a  whole — The  colouring  of 
the  Venetian  school  formed  upon  the  tints  in  autumn — The  Ganymede  of  Titian 
— That  of  Rubens,  on  the  fresh  colours  of  spring — Character  of  the  atmosphere, 
and  the  lights  and  shadows,  in  spring,  summer,  autumn,  and  winter — Remarks 
by  E.,  136-146 

CHAPTER  IX. 

On  ugliness — Angles  not  ugly — Deformity  is  to  ugliness  what  picturesqueness  is 
to  beauty  ;  but  has  in  itself  no  connection  with  the  sublime — Union  of  defor- 
mity with  beauty—In  what  deformity  consists — Ugliness  and  deformity  in  hills 
and  mountains — in  ground — Remarks  by  E. — in  trees — in  buildings — Ugliness 
in  colours — Effect  of  ugliness  and  deformity  compared — Illustrated  by  sounds 

 Effects  of  the  picturesque,  when  mixed  with  ugliness — The  excess  of  the 

qualities  of  beauty  tend  to  insipidity  ;  those  of  picturesqueness  to  deformity — 
Anecdote  of  an  Anatomist — Application  to  improvements — Beauty,  picturesque- 
ness, and  deformity,  in  the  other  senses — General  summing  up  of  the  arguments, 
to  show  that  the  picturesque  has  a  distinct  character — By  what  means  the  word 


CONTENTS. 


xix 


came  to  be  introduced  into  modern  languages — The  character,  not  less  distinct 
than  those  of  envy,  revenge,  &c. — The  reason  why  its  distinctness  has  not  been 
so  accurately  marked — And  why  there  are  not  more  distinct  terms  and  discri- 
minations in  matters  of  taste— Remarks  by  E.,   147-l(i3 

CHAPTER  X. 

How  far  the  principles  of  painting  have  been  applied  to  improvements — Kent  the 
first  improver  on  the  present  system — Remarks  by  E. — General  character  of 
the  old,  and  of  the  present  system — Remarks  by  E. — Character  of  Kent,  with  re- 
marks by  E. — Reasons  for  having  spoken  of  him  in  such  strong  terms — A  painter, 
of  a  liberal  and  comprehensive  mind,  the  best  judge  of  his  own  art,  and  of  all 
that  relates  to  it  :  such  was  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds — Character  of  his  Discourses 
— Nothing  so  contracts  the  mind  as  mere  practical  dexterity — Illustration  from 
such  dexterity  in  music — Want  of  connection  the  great  defect  of  modern  gar- 
dening— Connection  the  great  principle  of  painting — Illustrated  by  the  con- 
necting particles  in  language — Mr.  Brown,  with  remark  by  E. — Quotation  from 
Ariosto — Grandeur  in  miniature — The  clump — Anecdote  of  Mr.  Brown,  when 
High  Sheriff — The  belt — That  and  the  avenue  compared — Further  remarks 
on  the  avenue — Remarks  by  E. — An  avenue  condemned  by  Mr.  Brown,  but 
saved  by  the  owner — Distinction  between  beautiful  and  picturesque  intricacy 
— Impossible  to  plan  any  forms  of  plantations  that  will  suit  all  places — Illus- 
tration from  the  art  of  medicine — Remarks  by  E. — The  usual  method  of  thin- 
ning trees  for  the  purpose  of  beauty — 111  effect  of  breaking  an  avenue  into  clumps 
—Remarks  by  E.,  164-188 

CHAPTER  XI. 

Trees  considered  generally — Necessary  accompaniments  to  rocks,  mountains,  and 
to  every  kind  of  ground  and  water — Remarks  by  E. — An  exception  with  regard 
to  the  sea,  with  remark  by  E. — The  variety  ami  intricacy  of  trees — Those  which 
are  fullest  of  leaves  not  always  preferred  by  painters — The  reasons — Plantations 
made  for  ornament,  the  least  suited  to  the  painter — The  established  trees  of  the 
country  ought  to  prevail  in  the  new  plantations — Quotation  by  E. — Larches, 
and  all  pointed  firs,  make  a  bad  general  outline  ;  and,  as  they  outgrow  the  oak, 
&c.  nothing  else  appears — Remarks  by  E. — Fascinating  deformity  of  a  clump, 
compared  to  that  of  a  wart  or  excrescence  on  the  human  face — Even  large  plant- 
ations of  firs  have  a  harsh  effect,  from  their  not  harmonising  with  the  natural 
woods  of  the  country — The  necessity  of  a  proper  balance  in  all  scenery,  both  in 
point  of  form  and  of  colour — One  cause  of  the  heaviness  of  fir  plantations  is  their 
closeness— Appearance  of  the  outside  of  a  close  fir  plantation — of  the  inside — 
Different  appearance  in  a  grove  of  spreading  pines — Fir  plantation  improper 
for  screens — A  common  hedge  often  a  most  effectual  screen — This  points  out 
the  necessity  of  a  mixture  of  thorns,  hollies,  and  the  lower  growths,  in  all 
screens  ;  likewise  in  ornamental  plantations — The  advantage  of  such  a  mixture, 
if  a  plantation  should  be  thinned  after  long  neglect — Contrast  of  such  a  plant- 
ation with  a  close  wood  of  firs  only — Its  variety  would  not  arise  merely  from  a 
diversity  of  plants — Variety  in  forests  produced  by  a  few  species— Continual  and 
unvaried  diversity  a  source  and  a  species  of  monotony — Accident  and  neglect 
the  sources  of  variety  in  unimproved  parks  and  forests — The  reasons  why  lawns 
have  so  little  variety — Why  a  lawn  could  hardly  be  made  to  look  well  in  a  pic- 
ture— Yet  their  peculiar  character  ought  not  to  be  destroyed — Vei'dure  and 
smoothness,  which  are  the  characteristic  beauties  of  a  lawn,  are  in  their  nature 
allied  to  monotony  ;  but  improvers,  instead  of  trying  to  lessen  that  defect,  have 
added  to  it — Soft  and  smooth  colours,  like  soft  and  smooth  sounds,  are  grateful 


XX 


CONTENTS. 


to  the  mere  sense — A  relish  for  artful  combinations  acquired  by  degrees — Such 
a  relish  does  not  exclude  a  taste  for  simple  scenes,  and  simple  melodies— Re- 
marks by  E.,  189-212 

CHAPTER  XIL 

On  the  general  effects  of  water  in  landscape — The  beauty  arising  from  reflections — 
None  in  Mr.  Brown's  made  water — The  turns  of  a  beautiful  natural  river  com- 
pared with  those  of  Mr.  Brown's  artificial  rivers — Remarks  on  certain  passages 
of  the  poets,  respecting  the  banks  of  rivers — None  of  them  applicable  to  those  of 
Mr.  Brown's  artificial  water — No  professor  has  endeavoured  to  make  an  arti- 
ficial like  a  natural  river  ;  though  he  would  be  proud  of  having  it  mistaken  for 
one — Mr.  Brown  and  his  followers  great  economists  of  invention — Cruelty  of 
destroying  the  retired  character  of  a  brook — Regulus — Objects  of  reflection, 
peculiarly  suited  to  stagnant  water — Remarks  on  the  expression  of  a  fine  sheet 
of  water — The  great  piece  of  water  at  Blenheim — The  dressed  bank  and  garden 
scenery  ;  the  reason  why  that  part  is  superior  to  the  other  improved  parts — 
Mr.  Brown  did  not  work  in  that  part  upon  principle — He  does  not  appear  to 
have  paid  any  attention  to  the  thinning  of  his  plantations — Anecdote  of  a  lover 
of  painting  :  two  cows  can  never  group — Character  of  the  water  below  the 
cascade  at  Blenheim — Remarks  by  E.,  213-22G 

CHAPTER  XIII. 

General  reflections  on  the  subject  of  the  Essay — Mr.  Mason's  poem  as  real  an 
attack  on  Mr.  Brown's  system  as  what  I  have  written — Something  of  patriotism 
in  Mr.  Mason's  and  Mr.  Walpole's  praises — Mr.  Hamilton  :  Painshill — Precept 
of  Tasso  ;  comment  upon  it — Painting  tends  to  humanise  the  mind — Tribute 
to  the  memory  of  a  near  relation — Anecdote  of  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  and  Wilson 
— The  true  proser — an  emblem  of  Mr.  Brown's  performances — The  opposite 
character — an  emblem  of  the  picturesque — He  alone  deserves  the  name  of  im- 
prover who  leaves  or  creates  the  greatest  number  of  pictures — But  the  sicken- 
ing display  of  art,  and  the  total  want  of  effect  tempts  one  to  reverse  the  line  of 


Tasso,   227-235 

Appendix  to  the  First  Essay,  236 

ESSAY  ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 

Preface,  247 


Arguments  that  might  plausibly  be  urged  in  defence  of  Mr.  Brown's  made  water, 
and  against  the  imitation  of  the  banks  of  natural  lakes  and  rivers — In  order  to 
imitate  them  with  effect,  we  must  inquire  not  how  such  banks  may  have  looked 
when  they  were  first  created,  but  how  they  were  progressively  formed — Differ- 
ent accidents  by  which  natural  lakes  are  formed — Pieces  of  artificial  water  made 
by  means  of  a  head,  of  digging,  or  of  both — Their  form  best  indicated  by  the 
water  itself — How  natural  lakes,  which  originally  had  no  varieties,  may  have 
acquired  them,  and  how  similar  varieties  may  be  prepared  by  art — What  would 
probably  be  the  process  of  an  improver  who  wished  to  prepare  them  where  the 
banks  were  naturally  uniform — The  two  principal  changes  are  by  removing 
earth  from,  or  by  placing  it  upon,  or  against  banks — the  first  considered — Re- 
marks by  E. — Remarks  on  digging  out  the  soil  previous  to  its  being  disposed  of 
— The  banks  of  a  natural  river  and  its  varieties  analysed — Such  an  analysis  re- 
commended from  the  example  of  painters— Method  of  imitating  such  a  bank 
by  the  placing  of  the  mould — And  of  other  objects — Of  the  beauty  of  tints; — 
those  of  stone  and  of  broken  soil — All  varied  banks,  not  merely  those  of  water, 
should  be  studied  by  the  painter  and  the  improver — Reflections  on  foregrounds 


CONTENTS. 


xxi 


— their  general  effect,  and  their  detail — Arguments  for  enriching  the  banks  of 
made  water — Different  characters  of  banks  in  natural  rivers  considered,  with 
their  degrees  of  richness  and  variety — Those  varieties  have  never  been  attempt- 
ed in  made  water — Reasons  for  thinking  they  might  be  imitated  with  success — 
Instance  of  the  close  affinity  between  landscape  painters  and  landscape  gardeners 
■ — And  between  those  of  Mr.  Brown's  school  and  house  painters — Objection  to 
the  style  I  have  recommended,  from  the  danger  of  its  producing  absurdities — 
That  objection  obviated — The  combinations  that  might  be  formed  by  men  of  real 
taste,  with  Remarks  by  E. — Mr.  Brown's  banks  though  tame,  not  simple — Reasons 
for  having  recommended  enrichment,  and  not  simplicity — Character  of  simpli- 
city— Supposing  the  country  to  be  perfectly  flat,  how  are  the  banks  to  be  formed'? 
— Reflections  on  Mr.  Brown's  method  in  such  situations — On  continuity  of  surface 
in  ground,  and  on  the  separation  and  connection  occasioned  by  water  and  its 
banks — The  strong  attraction  of  water,  and  its  influence  on  all  around  it — Its 
position  of  great  consequence  in  the  view  from  the  house — The  banks  of  a  bare 
natural  river,  compared  with  those  of  Mr.  Brown's — also,  supposing  them  both 
to  be  planted  and  left  to  grow  wild — The  varieties  in  the  rich  but  flat  banks  of  a 
natural  river  examined — Remarks  by  E. — They  all  may  and  should  be  imitated 
— On  planting  the  banks  of  water — On  artificial  hillocks,  and  swellings  of  ground 
— Remarks  by  E. — Quotation  from  Mr.  Mason  on  that  subject — Ditto  from  the 
Abbe  de  Lille — On  the  forms  of  artificial  pieces  of  water — Reasons  for  imitating 
a  lake  rather  than  a  river — Remarks  by  E. — Excellent  hints  may  be  taken  from 
the  forms  of  water  in  gravel-pits — Effect  of  the  proportion  of  objects  to  the  size 
of  water — And  of  their  disproportion — Small  pools  in  wooded  scenes — Quotation 
from  Mr.  Mason — On  the  revival  of  tints  in  wTater — On  the  use  of  water  in  pic- 
tures— On  a  picture  of  Titian— Many  banks  spoiled  by  raising  water  too  high — 
The  effect  of  torrents  descending  into  a  flat — Quotation  from  Macchiavelli — On 
islands — Those  in  Lake  Superior — Quotation  from  Morse's  American  Geography 
— The  use  of  islands  in  disguising  the  appearance  of  the  head — Their  own 
intrinsic  beauty — Of  forming  and  planting  islands — The  trees  most  proper  for 
islands — Remarks  by  E. — Caution  with  regard  to  firs,  and  trees  of  a  light 
green — Of  water  plants — Comparison  between  a  piece  of  water  and  a  lawn — 
between  islands,  and  clumps  and  thickets — Circular  islands  in  the  centre — On 
flowing  lines  and  curves — Insensible  transitions,  not  lines,  the  cause  of  beauty 
in  landscape — The  great  defect  of  Mr.  Bi'own's  system — Distinction  between  a 
beautiful  and  a  picturesque  river,   253-296 

ESSAY  ON  DECORATIONS  NEAR  THE  HOUSE. 

Difficulties  in  treating  the  subject,  and  whence  they  arise — The  great  defect  of 
modern  gardening  an  affectation  of  simplicity — Mr.  Mason's  address  to  Simpli- 
city objected  to — The  characters  of  Richness  and  Simplicity  in  painting— Archi- 
tecture, even  of  the  simplest  kind,  requires  the  accompaniments  of  art — 
Gardens  in  Italy  ;  their  general  character — Their  character  when  kept  up,  and 
when  neglected — Yanbrugh's  answer  when  consulted  about  the  garden  at  Blen- 
heim— An  account  of  an  old-fashioned  garden,  which  I  myself  destroyed,  and 
regret — Remarks  by  E. — Arguments  in  favour  of  the  old  Italian  gardens,  from 
the  characters  of  the  artists  employed  to  adorn  them — The  principles  on  which 
their  excellence  is  founded — Anecdote  of  Lord  Stair — Gravel  and  terrace  walk 
compared — The  irregular  enrichments  of  a  broken  bank  compared  with  the 
regular  ones  of  an  ornamented  parapet — Iole  in  the  lion's  skin — The  varieties  in 
broken  ground  serve  as  indications  where  to  plant  with  effect — In  a  uniform 
bank  no  motive  of  preference — Leonardo  da  Vinci — The  use  of  a  mixture  of  stone 

h 


xxii 


CONTENTS. 


and  wood  work  in  the  foregrounds  of  every  style  of  building  trellises — 
Remarks  by  E. — Toleration  in  gardening — that  of  the  Romans  in  religion — The 
introduction  of  Dutch  gardening  probably  banished  the  Italian  style — Quotation 
from  Pontanus — Revolution  in  gardening  and  politics  compared — Reformation 
of  Knox  and  Brown  compared — Mr.  Brown  most  successful  in  gardens,  not  in 
grounds — His  merit  in  gravel-walks— those  at  Blenheim — His  ridicule  of  zig-zag- 
walks — Fountains  and  statues — Remarks  by  E. — Caution  with  regard  to  statues 
in  gardens — General  comparison  of  ancient  and  modern  gardening — Symmetry, 
formality,  straight  lines— The  Italian  style  of  gardening  most  suited  to  stately 
architecture,  but  there  are  gradations  in  garden  ornaments,  as  in  buildings — 
How  a  real  and  progressive  improvement  in  gardening  might  be  made — False 
idea  of  originality — Difference  between  leaving  old  terraces,  avenues,  &c.  and 
making  them — Richmond  terrace — Arguments  drawn  from  poetry,  painting, 
&c.  in  favour  of  heightening  and  embellishing  common  nature — The  difficulties 
of  gardening  not  in  executing  the  parts,  but  in  combining  them  into  a  well 
connected  whole — Remarks  by  E.,  297 

ESSAY  ON  ARCHITECTURE  AND  BUILDINGS. 

My  remarks  will  chiefly  be  confined  to  buildings  as  connected  with  scenery — Dis- 
tinction between  architecture  in  towns,  and  in  the  country — Reasons  for  that 
distinction — An  architect  should  be  architetto  pittore — The  necessity  of  employing 
such  an  architect  where  the  building  is  meant  to  accord  with  the  scenery — Many 
who  think  of  their  house  and  their  place  separately  :  not  of  the  union  of  their 
character  and  effect — None  so  likely  to  produce  a  reform  on  that  point  as  archi- 
tect painters — Not  even  landscape  painters — the  reason — One  cause  of  the  naked 
appearance  of  houses,  is  the  hiding  of  the  offices — Advantages  that  might  be  gained 
by  showing  them — Remarks  by  E. — Another  cause,  the  change  in  the  style  of 
gardening — Genius  of  the  lamp — Bareness  of  abbeys  and  castles  that  have  been 
improved — Also  of  rocks — On  the  mixture  of  trees  with  buildings  in  pictures — 
and  in  real  scenes — Turkey — Holland — Objections  to  them  stated  and  consid- 
ered— Trees,  the  dress  of  buildings — Phryne — Bareness  and  monotony  the  dis- 
eases of  modern  improvement — The  best  preservative  against  all  extremes,  is  a 
study  of  the  grand,  beautiful,  and  picturesque  in  buildings — The  sublime  in 
Buildings — Mr.  Burke— Succession  and  uniformity— The  sublime  of  intricacy 
— Effects  of  intricacy  and  uniformity  compared — San  Pietro  Martire  of  Titian — 
Massiveness  in  buildings — Lightness  of  style  in  writing — Voltaire — Psestum — 
Blenheim — Anecdote  of  Voltaire — Massivenesss  in  figures — Blenheim — Analogy 
between  rocks  and  buildings— Grandeur  of  marked  divisions,  as  towers — Wol- 
laton  House  and  Nottingham  Castle— Vanbrugh — Character  of  Blenheim — Re- 
marks by  E.— Summits  of  buildings— Town  of  Tivoli— and  of  Bath— Appearance 
of  buildings  in  the  general  view  of  a  city— Remark  on  the  appearance  of  a  man- 
sion with  its  offices—  Chimnies,  with  Remarks  by  E. — Summits  of  buildings  in  pic- 
tures, &c.,  their  various  characters— The  beautiful  in  buildings— Waving  lines- 
Anecdote  of  Hogarth— Twisted  columns— Temple  of  the  Sybil  ;  the  qualities  of 
beauty  according  to  Mr.  Burke  applied  to  it— Beauty  in  the  surface  and  tint  of 
buildings— The  buildings  in  Mr.  Locke's  Claude— By  what  means  they  might 
cease  to  be  beautiful,  and  become  simply  grand  and  picturesque— Symmetry- 
Grecian  and  Gothic  architecture— The  doctrine  of  insensible  transitions  applied  to 
ruins— Association  of  ideas,  with  Remark  by  E.— Ruins  in  the  pictures  of  Claude 
—Claude  and  Gaspar— Conjecture  why  Claude  so  often  painted  ruins,  and  Gaspar 
so  rarely— One  great  use  of  buildings  in  landscape,  a  resting  place  for  the  eye 
— Salvator  Rosa  seldom  painted  any  buildings  in  his  landscapes— The  picturesque 


CONTENTS. 


xxiii 


in  buildings — Mixed  with  beauty — With  grandeur — Remark  by  E. — Ruins  of 
Greek  and  Roman  buildings — Of  abbeys — Of  castles — Of  old  mansion-houses — 
Of  cottages,  mills,  &c. — Picturesque  habitable  buildings — Advantages  of  turning 
the  windows  towards  the  best  points  of  view — Remarks  by  E. — On  bridges — 
Stupendous  bridge  in  China — Grecian  and  Gothic  Bridges — Lightness  and 
Massiveness — Quotation  from  Milton  —  Columns  in  bridges — Blackfriars — 
Wooden  Bridges — Stone  and  wood — Picturesque  bridge  at  Charenton — not 
however  an  object  of  imitation — Anecdote  of  a  Chinese  tailor — Stone  and  wood 
bridge  in  a  drawing  of  Claude — Remarks  by  E. — Character  of  architecture  and 
buildings  in  the  pictures  of  great  historical  painters  of  the  Roman,  Florentine, 
and  Venetian  Schools — Drawing  of  Tintoret — Architecture  of  the  Venetian 
School ;  difference  of  its  character  from  the  two  others — The  causes — Twisted 
columns  in  one  of  the  cartoons — Grandeur  produced  by  two  columns  in  a  picture 
of  Titian — Bolognese  School  of  painting — Pietro  da  Cortona — Poussin — Flemish 
School — Rubens — Landscapes —  Roman  and  Florentine  Schools — Venetian — 
Titian — Two  landscapes  of  Titian,  etched  by  Bolognese — Application  of  the 
principle  on  which  the  buildings  in  them  are  grouped — Landscapes  of  Bolognese 
School — Of  Poussin — Magnificent  view  of  a  city  in  one  of  his  pictures — Similar 
views  in  pictures  of  P.  Veronese  and  Claude — Argument  drawn  from  them 
for  varying  the  summits — Landscape  of  Sebastian  Bourdon — Left  as  a  legacy  to 
Sir  George  Beaumont — Use  of  the  Picturesque  in  grand  subjects — Quotation 
from  Diderot — Abuse  of  it  in  pictures  of  Boucher — Landscapes  of  Rubens — 
Dutch  School — Remarks  on  a  passage  in  Mr.  Burke — Ostade — Wouvermans — 
Teniers — Rembrandt — On  slanting  roofs — Villages — No  scene  admits  of  such 
various  and  cheap  embellishments — Remarks  by  E. — Goldsmith — Sham  villages 
in  China — Character  of  a  village  as  distinct  from  a  town — Of  village  houses — 
Chimnies — Accompaniment  of  trees — Of  climbing  plants — Fruit  trees — Neat- 
ness pleasing,  though  with  formality,  as  in  clipped  hedges — Churches  and 
church-yards — The  forms  and  ornaments  of  churches — The  tower,  battlements, 
pinnacles — Quotation  from  Milton — The  spire — Trees  in  church-yards — Water 
— A  brook  most  in  character  with  a  village — Simple  foot  bridge — Stones  placed 
on  each  other  for  the  purpose  of  washing — Picturesque  circumstances  they  give 
rise  to — Remarks  on  Pope's  translation  of  a  passage  in  Homer — Tendency  of 
the  love  of  painting  towards  benevolence — Gainsborough — Sir  Joshua  Reynolds 
— How  far  a  judgment  in  architecture  may  be  acquired  by  the  study  of  pictures 
— Conclusion— Remarks  by  E.,   328-40.0 

Letter  to  Uvedale  Price,  Esq.,  410 

Letter  to  H.  Repton,  Esq. — Reason  for  answering  Mr.  Rcpton's  Letter  so  much 
in  detail — As  Mr.  R.  agrees  with  him  in  the  general  principles  of  improvement, 
the  difference  between  them  is  with  regard  to  the  propriety  or  possibility  of 
reducing  them  to  practice — The  trial  as  yet  has  never  fairly  been  made— Mi*.  R.'s 
principal  aim  throughout  his  Letter,  is  to  show,  that  by  a  study  of  painting  only, 
wild  ideas  are  acquired — Such  a  general  notion  not  authorised  by  the  works  of 
painters — Exemplified  in  those  of  Claude  and  N.  Poussin — In  giving  the  title  of 
"  The  New  system  of  Improvement,  by  Neglect  and  Accident,"  Mr.  R.  has  tried 
to  ridicule  his  own  practice — The  utility  of  that  practice  and  method  of  study 
discussed — Illustrated  by  a  passage  from  Helvetius — Its  effect  in  gardening — 
Not  attended  to  by  Mr.  Brown,  and  one  chief  cause  of  his  defects — It  is  a 
method  of  study  very  generally  pursued  by  painters  in  their  study  of  nature, 
but  not  by  improvers — Mr.  R.  however  had  pursued  it,  according  to  his  own 
account — Mr.  P.  had  taken  the  liberty  of  recommending,  in  addition  to  it,  the 
study  of  the  higher  artists  ;  but  is  glad  to  hear  Mr.  R.  had  anticipated  his  ad- 


xxiv 


CONTENTS. 


vice,  and  that  he  acknowledges  it  to  be  a  study  essential  to  the  profession — In 
their  party  down  the  Wye,  Mr.  R.  treated  lightly  the  idea  of  taking  hints  from 
a  natural  river,  towards  forming  an  artificial  one — He  had  found  by  practical 
experience  that  there  is  less  affinity  between  painting  and  gardening,  than  his 
enthusiasm  for  the  picturesque  made  him  originally  fancy — The  principal  aim 
of  Mr.  R.  is  to  weaken  that  affinity  ;  but  his  own  method  of  proceeding  proves 
the  closeness  of  it — That  method  discussed,  and  compared  with  the  painter's — 
In  all  this,  convenience  and  propriety  are  not  the  objects  of  consideration, 
though  not  to  be  neglected — The  best  landscape  painters  would  be  the  best 
landscape  gardeners,  were  they  to  turn  their  minds  to  the  practical  part ;  con- 
sequently, a  study  of  their  works  the  most  useful  study  to  an  improver — Mr.  R. 
has  endeavoured  to  confine  his  reader's  ideas  to  mere  garden  scenes,  and  to 
persuade  them  that  Mr.  P.  wishes  that  every  thing  should  be  sacrificed  to  pictu- 
resque effect — That  notion  refuted  by  references  to  the  Essay  on  the  Picturesque 
— Mr.  R.'s  illustration  of  a  garden  scene,  by  a  didactic  poem,  examined — Also  his 
query,  whether  the  painter's  landscape  is  indispensable  to  gardening  ? — as  like- 
wise the  meaning  of  both  those  terms — Instead  of  the  painter's  landscape,  Mr.  R. 
ought,  in  candour,  to  have  put  a  study  of  the  principles  of  painting — All  painting 
not  rough — instances  of  too  great  smoothness — Such  a  painter  as  Van  Huysum 
would  be  a  much  better  judge  of  the  merits  and  defects  of  the  most  dressed  scene 
— of  a  mere  flower-garden— than  a  gardener  ;  and,  from  the  general  principles 
of  the  art,  his  judgment  and  that  of  the  wildest  painter — even  of  S.  Rosa — 
would  probably  agree — The  more  the  scene  was  extended,  the  more  it  would 
belong  to  the  painter,  and  the  less  to  the  gardener — Mr.  R.  has  addressed  him- 
self to  the  fears  of  his  employers,  and  alarmed  them  for  their  health  in  pictu- 
resque scenes — Dirt  and  rubbish  not  picturesque,  as  such — Many  pleasing  scenes 
which  cannot  be  painted — That  notion,  and  the  argument  Mr.  R.  has  drawn 
from  it,  examined — Mr.  P.  had  been  warned,  that  the  Brownists  in  general 
would  take  advantage  of  his  distinction,  and  give  up  the  picturesque,  and  keep 
to  beauty  only  ;  the  advantage  it  would  be  of  to  him,  should  they  do  so  ;  his 
surprise  and  regret  that  Mr.  R.  should  have  done  what  nearly  amounts  to  it — 
Before  he  says  anything  further  on  the  use  of  the  picturesque  in  landscape 
gardening,  Mr.  P.  wishes  three  points  to  be  considered  :  1st  the  distinct  charac- 
ter of  the  picturesque — 2dly,  The  vague  meaning  of  the  term  gardening — And 
3dly,  The  general  mixture  of  the  picturesque  with  the  beautiful — Mr.  R.  has 
always  chosen  to  consider  the  picturesque  in  its  roughest  state,  but  has  avoided 
any  allusion  to  picturesque  scenery — He  therefore  transfers  the  picturesque  to 
gipseys,  &c.,  not  to  cascades  and  forest  scenes — Mr.  R.'s  criticism  of  Mr.  P.'s 
observation,  on  the  effect  of  deer  in  groups,  examined — The  justness  of  that 
observation  defended,  by  the  pictures  of  Claude  and  Berchem — The  picturesque 
applied  to  landscape  gardening — Picturesque  parts  in  the  most  simply  beautiful 
rivers — Those  parts  must  be  destroyed  or  concealed,  if  the  picturesque  be  re- 
nounced— Beauty  no  more  the  immediate  result  of  smoothness,  &c,  than  pictu- 
resqueness  is  of  roughness,  &c. — Should  Mr.  R.  allow  of  a  mixture  of  roughness 
in  his  idea  of  beauty,  it  is  no  longer  unmixed,  no  longer  separate  from  the  pictu- 
resque ;  and  in  that  case,  all  he  has  said  about  renouncing  the  latter  has  no 
object — Proposed  alteration  at  Powis  Castle,  by  a  professed  improver — That 
instance  shows  the  danger  of  trying  to  ridicule  the  study  of  painting,  and 
of  the  picturesque — The  diffidence  wliich  Mr.  R.  showed  in  consulting  Mr. 
Knight  about  the  improvements  at  Ferney  Hall,  first  gave  Mr.  P.  a  desire  of 
being  acquainted  with  him — The  character  he  had  heard  of  his  drawings  added 
to  that  desire — The  improver  not  less  in  danger  of  becoming  a  mannerist  than 
the  painter — Kent  an  example  of  it — Mr.  P.  did  not  intend  to  call  in  question 


CONTENTS. 


XXV 


the  respectability  of  Mr.  R.'s  profession  ;  but,  on  the  contrary,  to  give  it  a  respec- 
tability it  hitherto  had  not  deserved — Parallel  drawn  by  Mr.  R.  between  the 
paintei*'s  studies  of  wild  nature,  and  the  uncontrolled  opinions  of  savages — 
By  wild  nature,  he  probably  means  simple  nature  unimproved  by  art — How  far 
such  wild  nature,  when  arranged  by  the  painter,  may  accord  with  dressed 
scenery — Many  scenes  in  unimproved  nature  highly  beautiful  in  the  strictest 
sense,  and  which  are  of  course  produced  by  accident,  not  design,  with  Remark 
by  E — Mr.  R.'s  parallel  between  modern  gardening  and  the  English  constitution 
— A  more  apt  and  instructive  one  might  have  been  drawn  between  it  and  the 
art  of  painting — Mr.  R.'s  defence  of  the  detail  of  Mr.  Brown's  practice — the 
clump — Mr.  Brown  studied  distinctness,  not  connection — Connection  the  lead- 
ing principle  of  the  art,  and  the  most  flagrantly  and  systematically  violated — 
The  two  principal  defects  in  the  composition  of  landscapes,  that  of  objects 
being  too  crowded  or  too  scattered — Mr.  R.'s  condemnation  of  single  trees  in 
heavy  fences  very  just — The  ground  must  be  prepared,  fenced,  and  planted 
too  thick  at  first — Remedies  proposed  for  the  defects  which  that  method, 
though  the  best,  will  occasion — The  belt — Causes  assigned  for  its  introduction 
and  continuance — Nothing  so  convienent  as  to  work  by  general  receipts,  such 
as  clumps,  belts,  &c. — The  belt  a  gigantic  hedge — difference  between  that  and 
the  accidental  screens  to  old  parks — Those  are  true  objects  of  imitation  to  the 
landscape  gardeners— Mr.  R.'s  improved  belt  not  properly  a  belt;  certainly 
not  Mr.  Brown's,  &c. — Even  that  improved  belt  shown  to  be  tedious  from  his 
own  account — Mr.  P.'s  recommendation  to  gentlemen  to  become  their  own 
landscape  gardeners,  not  likely  to  injui'e  the  profession,  and  still  less  the  art — 
No  art  more  adapted  to  men  of  liberal  education  who  have  places  in  the  country — 
Its  practice  not  difficult — Less  danger  in  quacking  one's  self,  than  in  trusting  to 
a  bold  empiric — Parallel  between  the  education  of  a  physician,  and  of  a  land- 
scape gardener — The  most  perverse  and  ignorant  improver  of  his  own  place, 
will  seldom  do  such  extensive  mischief  as  is  produced  by  the  regular  system  of 
clearing  and  levelling — Allusion  to  the  system  of  torture  in  the  inquisition,  com- 
pared with  the  cruelty  of  savages — No  plan,  or  medicine,  proper  in  almost  every 
case— neither  Brown's  plan  nor  James's  Powder — Prospects — Remarks  by  E. — 
Why  prospects  in  general  are  not  proper  subjects  for  painting — The  same  causes 
equally  operate  on  all  views — Prospects  are  to  be  judged  of,  like  any  other  views, 
on  the  principles  of  painting — Remarks  by  E. — But  however  exquisitely  painted, 
will  not  have  the  effect  of  those  in  nature — They  are  not  real,  and  therefore  do 
not  excite  the  curiosity  which  reality  excites — This  accounts  for  what  Mr.  R. 
relates  of  the  visitors  at  Matlock — Mr.  P.  had  called  the  two  arts  sisters,  but 
has  no  objection  to  adopting  Mr.  R.'s  idea  and  calling  them  husband  and  wife — 
Mr.  R.'s  illustration  of  the  habit  of  admiring  fine  pictures  and  bold  scenery,  by 
that  of  chewing  of  tobacco — In  the  same  manner  that  Mr.  R.  has  represented 
Mr.  P.  as  liking  nothing  but  what  is  rough  and  picturesque,  a  wrong-headed 
friend  of  Mr.  Gilpin's  might  very  plausibly  represent  him  as  loving  nothing  but 
smoothness — Mr.  R.'s  examples  of  subjects  he  supposes  Mr.  P.  to  despise,  because 
they  are  incapable  of  being  painted — They  all  may  be  painted — Except  the  im- 
mediate descent  down  a  steep  hill — That  deficiency  of  the  art,  and  the  argu- 
ment drawn  from  it,  considered — Recapitulation  of  the  contents  and  the  design 
of  Mr.  R.'s  Letter — Remarks  on  the  general,  and  on  the  confined,  sense  of  the 
term  beautiful — Illustrated  by  that  of  virtue — A  picturesque  scene  without  any 
mixture  of  the  beautiful,  contrasted  with  a  beautiful  scene,  unmixed  with 
any  thing  picturesque — Effect  of  the  different  characters  of  light  and  shadow  on 
these  two  scenes — Effect  of  mixing  the  characters  of  the  two  scenes — Effect  of 
Mr.  Brown's  style  of  improvement  on  both — In  what  points  the  design  of  the 


xxvi 


CONTENTS. 


PAGK 


Essay  on  the  Picturesque  has  been  misconceived— On  gravel-walks  and  paths 
— The  effect  of  distinct  cutting  lines,  illustrated  by  a  remark  of  A.  Caracci,  on 
Raphael  and  Correggio — Gravel-walks  accord  more  with  beautiful  than"  with 
picturesque  scenes — On  by-roads  in  a  dry  soil,  as  objects  of  imitation  at  some 
distance  from  the  house — Remarks  by  E. — On  the  different  effects  of  the  scythe, 
and  of  the  bite  of  sheep — How  banks  in  pleasure-grounds  might  be  made  to  have 
the  play  of  wild,  and  the  polish  of  dressed  nature — On  distinct  lines,  when  ap- 
plied to  the  banks  of  water — Effect  of  distinctness  in  the  lines  of  gravel-walks, 
and  in  the  banks  of  water,  considered — The  picturesque  and  the  beautiful  as 
separate  as  their  respective  qualities — but  the  art  of  improving  depends  not  on 
their  constant  separation,  but  on  their  proper  mixture — still  more  on  the  higher 
principles  of  union,  connection,  &c. — Controversy  compared  with  the  ancient 
tournaments — The  effects  of  connection  in  a  more  important  sphere — Remarks 
on  Mr.  Mason's  expression  of  Silvati  grace,  417-472 


DIALOGUE  ON  THE  DISTINCT  CHARACTERS  OF  THE  PICTURESQUE 
AND  BEAUTIFUL. 


Introductory  Essay,  

Preface,  

Note  to  the  Second  Edition  of  the  Landscape, 
Dialogue  on  the  Picturesque  and  Beautiful, 
Appendix  to  Dialogue,  &c,  .... 
Notes  and  Illustrations,  .... 


475 
498 
500 
505 
549 
557 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


The  subject  of  Sir  Uvedale  Price's  Essays  appears  to  me  capable  of 
being  considered  under  two  different  views — that  popular  view  which 
contents  itself  with  the  mere  observation  and  enumeration  of  the  objects 
of  the  material  world,  or  their  combinations,  which  are  most  generally 
capable  of  exciting  in  us  emotions  of  beauty,  of  sublimity,  or  of  the 
picturesque — and  that  deeper  and  more  philosophical  view,  which  in- 
volves the  enquiry  into  the  manner  in  which  the  human  mind  is  affected 
by  such  objects.  Price  has  in  a  great  .degree  contented  himself  with 
the  first  of  these  views — and  indeed  when  he  has  ventured  beyond 
its  limits,  he  has  shown  indications  of  a  disposition  to  be  misled  into 
that  wide  and  pathless  wilderness  of  error,  in  which  all  those  who 
had  previously  written  upon  the  subject  were  lost.  The  exquisite 
and  highly  cultivated  taste  which  he  displays,  however,  and  the  nice 
discrimination  which  he  exhibits  in  that  range  within  which  he  confines 
himself,  and  in  which  the  great  majority  of  his  readers  are  naturally 
most  interested,  has  uniformly  excited  the  admiration  of  all  who  have 
perused  his  Essays,  and  as  they  will  be  found  to  contain  much,  if  not 
all  that  is  requisite  for  the  promotion  of  Landscape  Gardening  upon 
the  best  principles,  the  circumstance  of  his  leaving  untouched  the  deeper 
question — upon  what  philosophical  grounds  these  principles  really 
are  the  best — does  not  render  his  observations  the  less  useful,  in  a 
practical  point  of  view.  At  the  same  time,  I  am  disposed  to  believe, 
that  it  will  not  be  thought  his  work  is  rendered  less  valuable,  or  the 
beauty  of  the  pictures  he  so  liberally  spreads  abroad  in  it  less  enjoyable, 
if  I  should  venture  to  devote  a  few  preliminary  pages  to  an  exposition 

A 


2 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


of  that  which  is  now  held  to  he  the  true  Theory  of  the  process  hy  which 
the  human  mind  is  affected  by  emotions  of  beauty,  of  sublimity,  or  of 
the  picturesque — terms,  which  I  am  quite  disposed  to  admit  to  be  in 
themselves  extremely  convenient,  as  popular  classifications  of  those 
pleasing  emotions  which  we  derive  from  the  objects  of  the  material 
world,  but  which,  in  the  strictly  philosophical  view  of  the  question,  must 
be  viewed  as  substantially  the  same,  since  they  are  found  to  owe  their 
creation  to  the  same  origin,  and  operation  of  mind. 

The  great  error  into  which  most  of  those  who  have  treated  of  the 
subject  of  Taste  have  fallen,  is  that  arising  from  the  belief  that  there 
exists  in  material  objects,  certain  inherent  and  invariable  qualities  of 
beauty,  of  sublimity,  or  of  picturesqueness,  and  this,  in  many  instances,  in 
such  a  manner,  as  would  have  implied  the  existence  of  a  peculiar  sense  or 
faculty,  for  the  perception  of  them.  Now,  it  is  obvious,  that  if  this  really 
were  the  case,  all  men  of  perfect  organization  would  be  affected  by  the 
same  objects,  with  precisely  the  same  sensations,  just  as  all  mankind 
who  have  perfect  organs,  are  similarly  affected  with  the  opposite  sensa- 
tions of  light  and  darkness,  of  heat  and  cold,  of  sweetness  and  bitter- 
ness, or  of  those  produced  by  the  antagonist  hues  of  black  and  white. 
But  we  know  that  men's  opinions  are  so  far  from  being  uniform  with 
regard  to  matters  of  taste,  that  the  same  object  which  produces  one 
kind  of  emotion  in  one  individual,  will  often  produce  an  emotion  of  a 
very  different  sort  in  another;  that  an  object  which  in  one  man  produces 
a  strong  emotion,  may  produce  no  emotion  at  all  in  another.  Nay,  more, 
that  the  very  same  object  which  deeply  affects  an  individual  in  one  way 
at  one  time,  will  affect  him  as  strongly  in  a  totally  different  or  opposite 
manner  at  another,  while  at  some  other  period  it  will  produce  no  effect 
upon  him  at  all.  As  it  was  found  impossible  to  reconcile  these  facts 
with  any  theory  which  assigned  to  objects  inherent  and  unchangeable 
qualities  of  beauty,  of  sublimity,  or  of  picturesqueness,  philosophers  began 
to  look  into  the  mind  itself  for  the  generation  and  production  of  these 
emotions. 

In  the  history  of  this  question,  it  is  a  circumstance  somewhat  remark- 
able, that  the  writings  of  Plato  exhibit  some  faint  indications  of  the  im- 
portant truth,  that  in  the  perception  of  beauty,  the  mind  of  man  only 
contemplates  those  pictures  which  its  own  affections  have  created.  But 
from  the  days  of  Plato  downwards,  nearly  to  our  own  times,  nothing 
exists  to  show  that  any  writer  had  been  fully  enlightened  on  this  subject. 
The  opinions  of  St.  Augustin,  Crouzas,  Andre,  Shaftesbury,  Hutcheson, 
and  Gerard,  were  all  visionary,  and  many  of  them  wild — and  even 
that  of  Burke  himself,  will  not  be  found  to  be  such  as  to  entitle  it  to 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


s 


exemption  from  these  imputations.  When  duly  considered,  Burke's 
Theory  may  be  resolved  into  this,  that  all  objects  appear  beautiful, 
which  have  the  power  of  producing  a  particular  relaxation  of  our  nerves 
and  fibres,  and  which  thus  induce  a  certain  bodily  languor  and  sinking. 
But  although  the  eloquence  of  the  author  of  the  Treatise  of  the  Sub- 
lime and  Beautiful,  has  given  a  charm  to  that  work,  which  must  always 
cause  it  to  be  read  with  intense  pleasure,  and  although  it  is  full  of  the 
most  beautiful  and  striking  remarks,  yet  its  principle  has  been  funda- 
mentally abandoned  by  all,  with  the  exception,  perhaps,  of  Price  him- 
self, in  whose  writings  somewhat  of  the  spirit  of  Burke's  theory  may 
be  detected  under  a  new  character.  After  Burke  came  Diderot,  and 
Pere  Burner,  whose  theories  were  also  untenable.  Then  a  whole  troop 
of  authors  entered  the  lists,  to  tilt  in  a  sort  of  chance-medley  combat, 
in  which  each  preux  chevalier  fought  for  himself  independently,  and 
exchanged  thrusts  with  all  the  other  combatants  in  succession.  No 
two  individuals  were  engaged  who  had  not  some  point  of  opinion  to 
dispute,  while  each  seemed  to  have  adopted  for  himself  some  favourite 
theory  which  he  believed  to  be  infallible.  But  although  even  the  errors 
of  these  authors  had  some  foundation  in  truth,  that  truth  was  so  im- 
perfect in  itself,  as  to  be  quite  tantamount  to  error.  Their  various 
theories,  which,  according  to  their  several  opinions,  made  beauty  to  con- 
sist in  utility,  proportion,  relation,  curved  lines,  smoothness,  minuteness, 
delicacy,  fragility,  regularity,  moderate  variety,  and  other  properties  be- 
longing essentially  to  objects,  when  tested  were  proved  to  be  utterly 
fallacious  as  general  principles,  and  therefore  unsatisfactory.  Each  of 
the  controvertists  found  it  an  easier  matter  to  disprove  the  universality 
of  application  of  the  different  theories  of  his  various  opponents,  than  to 
establish  that  of  his  own. 

Thus  it  was  that  the  mere  surface  of  the  question  continued  to  be 
for  some  time  agitated  by  controversy,  without  any  nearer  approach  to 
truth,  till  a  later  race  of  enquirers  arose,  who,  by  going  deeper  in  their 
researches  into  the  operations  of  the  human  mind,  and  into  the  modes 
in  which  it  is  affected  by  the  objects  of  the  material  world,  began  to  ex- 
plain and  to  reconcile  the  difficulties,  and  seeming  incongruities  that 
appeared  among  the  various  doctrines  of  former  disputants.  This  was 
done  by  showing,  that  all  of  them  had  erred  in  seeking  for  any  inherent 
qualities  in  objects,  capable  of  being  established  as  the  sole,  invariable, 
and  direct  productive  causes  of  beauty,  of  sublimity,  or  of  the  pic- 
turesque— and  by  teaching  us  that  our  minds  are  affected  by  such  im- 
pressions entirely  from  the  influence  of  certain  associations,  the  filaments 
of  which  are  frequently  so  fine,  as  to  be  in  themselves  imperceptible, 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


and  the  original  germs  from  which  they  spring  often  so  deeply  seated  as  to 
he  indiscoverable,  although,  in  other,  and  perhaps  in  most  instances,  a 
patient  and  industrious  investigation  may  enable  us  to  trace  them  satis- 
factorily— or,  in  other  words,  our  minds  obey  the  power  of  these  asso- 
ciations, by  giving  birth  to  the  emotions  which  they  naturally  excite,  and 
this  even  in  many  instances  where  the  original  cause  of  association  may 
be  forgotten,  or  extremely  difficult  to  discover. 

Mr.  Alison's  Essays  on  the  Principles  of  Taste,  first  published  in  1790, 
afforded  the  earliest  complete  promulgation  of  the  Theory  of  Association. 
He  was  followed  by  Knight,  and  Professors  Dugald  Stewart  and  Thomas 
Brown.  But  as  Lord  Jeffrey's  eloquent  and  perspicuous  article  in  the 
Encyclopaedia  Britannica  is  the  last  treatise  on  the  subject  of  which  I  have 
any  knowledge,  and  as  he  there  prunes  some  of  the  redundancies  of  Alison, 
which  are  not  only  not  essential  to  the  theory  itself,  but  which  perhaps 
rather  weaken  than  add  to  its  strength,  I  shall  avail  myself  of  his  ob- 
servations, along  with  those  of  Mr.  Alison,  to  aid  me  in  the  following 
attempt  to  explain  and  expose  it  in  its  most  perfect  form. 

Mr.  Alison  tells  us  in  his  introduction,  that  the  qualities  that  produce 
in  the  mind  the  emotions  of  sublimity  and  beauty,  are  to  be  found  in 
almost  every  class  of  the  objects  of  human  observation,  while  the  emotions 
themselves  afford  one  of  the  most  extensive  sources  of  human  delight. 
They  occur  to  us  amid  every  variety  of  external  scenery,  and  among 
many  diversities  of  disposition  and  affection  in  the  mind  of  man.  The 
merely  pleasing  arts  of  human  invention  are  altogether  directed  to  their 
production  ;  and  even  the  utilitarian  arts  are  exalted  into  dignity  by  the 
genius  that  can  unite  beauty  with  use.  These  qualities,  however, 
though  so  important  to  human  happiness,  are  not  the  objects  of  imme- 
diate observation  ;  and  in  the  attempt  to  investigate  them,  various  circum- 
stances unite  to  perplex  our  research.  They  are  not  unfrequentl  y  obscured 
under  the  number  of  qualities  with  which  they  are  accidentally  com- 
bined. They  result  often  from  peculiar  combinations  of  the  qualities  of 
objects,  or  the  relations  of  certain  parts  of  objects  to  each  other.  They 
are  still  oftener  dependent  upon  the  state  of  our  minds,  so  as  to  vary  in 
their  effects  with  the  dispositions  in  which  they  happen  to  be  observed 
by  us. 

In  order  to  discover  the  causes  which  produce  these  emotions,  we 
must  first  investigate  the  nature  of  the  qualities  themselves  ;  and  secondly, 
that  of  the  faculty  by  which  the  emotions  are  received.  Mr.  Alison 
very  justly  remarks,  that  such  investigations  are  of  value  much  beyond 
the  mere  gratification  of  philosophical  curiosity,  for  whatever  the  science 
of  criticism  can  afford  for  the  improvement  or  correction  of  taste,  must 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


altogether  depend  upon  the  previous  knowledge  of  the  laws  of  this 
faculty,  and,  without  a  just  and  accurate  conception  of  the  nature  of 
these  qualities,  the  artist  must  he  unable  to  determine  whether  the 
hcauty  he  creates  is  of  a  temporary  or  permane?it  nature — that  is  to  say, 
whether  it  be  merely  adapted  to  the  accidental  prejudices  prevalent  in 
his  own  age,  or  whether  it  be  fitted  to  command  that  more  permanent 
approbation,  which  must  always  arise,  in  any  age,  from  the  uniform  con- 
stitution of  the  human  mind.  I  beg  the  reader  to  observe,  that  this 
observation  applies  to  nothing  more  strongly  than  to  the  art  of  Landscape 
Gardening. 

The  fundamental  point  of  Mr.  Alison's  theory  is,  that  all  the  beauty 
of  material  objects  depends  on  the  associations  that  may  have  connected 
them  with  the  ordinary  affections  or  emotions  of  our  nature.  In  other 
words,  the  beauty  which  we  impute  to  such  objects  is  nothing  more  than 
the  reflection  of  our  own  inward  emotions.  The  object  presented  to  our 
eyes  is  associated  either  with  pleasures,  or  pleasing  emotions  of  our  past 
life,  or  by  some  universal  analogy  with  some  such  pleasing  emotions, 
these  are  immediately  suggested  and  renewed  the  moment  the  object 
is  seen  by  us.  I  say  immediately  suggested,  because,  in  my  mind,  it  is 
plain  that  the  emotions  excited  by  these  associations  are  instanta- 
neously suggested  ;  that  is  to  say,  they  are  suggested  at  the  very  in- 
stant that  the  object  is  observed  by  us,  or  at  the  very  first  glimpse 
we  have  of  its  appearance  ;  for  it  is  this  immediate  connection  and  in- 
stantaneous effect  produced  between  the  objects  and  the  mind,  which 
makes  it  so  difficult  for  superficial  enquirers  to  conceive  that  the  physical 
properties  of  the  object  are  not  the  direct  cause  of  our  sensations,  and, 
consequently,  the  natural  belief  arises,  that  these  physical  properties  are 
endowed  with  absolute  and  intrinsic  qualities  of  beauty.  If,  then,  the 
object  presented  to  us  be  not  altogether  indifferent  to  us,  we  are  at  once 
enabled  to  pronounce  it  to  be  beautiful,  or  the  reverse  of  beautiful, 
because,  in  the  one  case,  it  immediately  suggests  to  us  an  association 
with  some  pleasing  emotion  of  our  past  experience  which  it  instan- 
taneously recalls,  whilst,  in  the  other,  it  with  equal  promptitude  sug- 
gests an  association  with  emotions  of  an  unpleasing  nature.  But  Mr. 
Alison  is  not  contented  to  admit  that  an  association  calculated  to  excite 
such  pleasing  emotions  within  us,  may  he  a  sufficient  cause  of  our  being 
apparently  conscious  of  perceptions  of  beauty  in  the  objects  of  the 
material  world.  He  conceives  that  this  our  sense  of  beauty  consists,  not 
merely  in  the  suggestion  of  such  ideas  of  pleasing  emotion,  but  in  the 
contemplation  of  a  connected  series  of  such  ideas  ;  nay,  he  seems  to 
hold  it  to  be  essential  to  the  production  of  a  full  perception  of  beauty 


6 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


that  the  mind  should  he  home  away  into  a  half  active  and  half  passive 
state  of  dreamy  imagination,  in  which  it  may  generate  trains  of  thought 
allied  to  the  character  and  expression  of  the  ohject.  Now,  I  think  that 
after  the  ohject  presented  to  us  has  excited  its  associated  emotions  of 
beauty,  such  dreamy  trains  of  thought  may  he  very  likely  to  arise, 
especially  in  a  mind  of  strong  sensibility,  rich  imagination,  and  great 
reflective  habits,  such  as  that  of  Mr.  Alison  himself,  and  that  more 
particularly  in  moments  of  peculiar  quiet  and  leisure ;  and  I  am  also 
prepared  to  admit  that  the  primary  emotion  of  heauty  may  be  thereby 
very  much  expanded  or  multiplied,  so  as  to  increase  the  delight  of  the 
individual  in  a  corresponding  degree.  But  I  must  agree  with  Lord 
JefTrev,  that  not  only  are  such  trains  of  thought  not  essential,  but  that 
such  a  view  of  the  question  might  very  much  endanger  the  evidence 
as  well  as  the  consistency  of  the  general  doctrine.  To  use  his  Lordship's 
own  words — "  In  the  long  train  of  interesting  meditations  to  which  Mr. 
Alison  refers,  in  the  delightful  reveries  in  which  he  would  make  the 
sense  of  beauty  consist,  it  is  obvious  that  we  must  soon  lose  sight  of  the 
external  object  which  gave  the  first  impulse  to  our  thoughts,  and  though 
we  may  afterwards  reflect  upon  it  with  increased  interest  and  gratitude, 
as  the  parent  of  so  many  charming  images,  it  is  impossible,  we  conceive, 
that  the  perception  of  its  beauty  can  ever  depend  upon  a  long  series  of 
various  and  shifting  emotions."  Feeling,  as  I  do,  the  full  force  of  this 
observation,  I  am  disposed  to  think  that  Mr.  Alison's  error  may  be 
accounted  for  by  the  fact,  that  his  own  highly  poetical  and  imaginative 
mind  must  have  been  so  prone  to  yield  to  those  delightful  reveries  of 
which  he  makes  so  much  account,  as  to  have  led  him  to  overlook 
the  full  influence  of  the  primary  emotions  of  beauty  by  which  they 
were  generated.  Be  this  as  it  may,  however,  this  idea  of  the  necessity  of 
imaginative  reveries  for  the  production  of  beauty  and  sublimity,  is  so 
interwoven  with  the  beginning  of  his  work,  as  to  lead  me,  in  the  first 
place,  rather  to  apply  to  the  text  of  Lord  Jeffrey  as  the  safest  guide  to 
a  correct  view  of  the  Theory  of  Association. 

"  The  basis  of  this  theory  is,  that  the  beauty  which  we  impute  to 
outward  objects  is  nothing  more  than  the  reflection  of  our  own  inward 
emotions,  and  it  is  made  up  entirely  of  certain  little  portions  of  love, 
pity,  and  affection  which  have  been  connected  with  these  objects,  and 
still  adhere,  as  it  were,  to  them,  and  move  us  anew  whenever  they  are 
presented  to  our  observation.  Before  proceeding  to  bring  any  proof  of 
the  truth  of  this  proposition,  there  are  two  things  which  it  may  he 
proper  to  explain  a  little  more  distinctly  ; — -first,  what  are  the  primary 
affections,  by  the  suggestion  of  which  we  think  the  sense  of  beauty  is 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


7 


produced  ;  and  secondly,  what  is  the  nature  of  the  connection  by  which 
we  suppose  that  the  objects  we  call  beautiful  are  enabled  to  suggest 
these  affections. 

u  With  regard  to  the  first  of  these  points,  it  fortunately  is  not  neces- 
sary either  to  enter  into  any  tedious  details,  or  to  have  recourse  to  any 
nice  distinctions.  All  sensations  that  are  not  absolutely  indifferent,  and 
are,  at  the  same  time,  either  agreeable  when  experienced  by  ourselves, 
or  attractive  when  contemplated  in  others,  may  form  the  foundation  of 
the  emotions  of  sublimity  or  beauty.  The  love  of  sensation  seems  to  be 
the  ruling  appetite  of  human  nature,  and  many  sensations,  in  which  the 
painful  seems  to  bear  no  little  share,  are  consequently  sought  for  with 
avidity,  and  recollected  with  interest,  even  in  our  own  persons.  In  the 
persons  of  others,  emotions  still  more  painful  are  contemplated  with 
eagerness  and  delight ;  and,  therefore,  we  must  not  be  surprised  to  find, 
that  many  of  the  pleasing  sensations  of  beauty  or  sublimity  resolve  them- 
selves ultimately  into  recollections  of  feelings  that  may  appear  to  have  a 
very  opposite  character.  The  sum  of  the  whole  is,  that  every  feeling 
which  it  is  agreeable  to  experience,  to  recal,  or  to  witness,  may  become 
the  source  of  beauty  in  external  objects,  when  it  is  so  connected  with 
them,  as  that  their  appearance  reminds  us  of  that  feeling.  Now,  in  real 
life,  and  from  daily  experience  and  observation,  we  know  that  it  is 
agreeable,  in  the  first  place,  to  recollect  our  own  pleasurable  sensations, 
or  to  be  able  to  form  a  lively  conception  of  the  pleasures  of  other  men, 
or  even  of  sentient  beings  of  any  description.  We  know,  likewise, 
from  the  same  sure  authority,  that  there  is  a  certain  delight  in  the 
remembrance  of  our  past,  or  the  conception  of  our  future  emotions,  even 
though  attended  with  great  pain,  provided  they  be  not  forced  too  rudely 
on  the  mind,  and  be  softened  by  the  accompaniment  of  any  milder  feel- 
ing. And,  finally,  we  know.,  in  the  same  manner,  that  the  spectacle  or 
conception  of  the  emotions  of  others,  even  when  in  a  high  degree 
painful,  is  extremely  interesting  and  attractive,  and  draws  us  away,  not 
only  from  the  consideration  of  indifferent  objects,  but  even  from  the 
pursuit  of  light  or  frivolous  enjoyments,  All  these  are  plain  and  fami- 
liar facts,  of  the  existence  of  which,  however  they  may  be  explained,  no 
one  can  entertain  the  slightest  doubt,  and  into  which,  therefore,  we  shall 
have  made  no  inconsiderable  progress,  if  we  can  resolve  the  more 
mysterious  fact  of  the  emotions  we  receive  from  the  contemplation  of 
sublimity  or  beauty. 

"  Our  proposition,  then,  is,  that  these  emotions  arc  not  original  emo- 
tions, nor  produced  directly  by  any  qualities  in  the  objects  which  excite 
them,  but  arc  the  reflections  or  images  of  the  more  radical  and  familiar 


J 


«S  ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 

emotions  to  which  we  have  already  alluded,  and  are  occasioned,  not  hy 
any  inherent  virtue  in  the  objects  before  us,  but  by  the  accidents,  if  we 
may  so  express  ourselves,  by  which  these  may  have  been  enabled  to 
suggest  or  recal  to  us  our  own  past  sensations  or  sympathies.  We  might 
almost  venture,  indeed,  to  lay  it  down  as  an  axiom,  that,  except  in  the 
plain  and  palpable  case  of  bodily  pain  or  pleasure,  we  can  never  be 
interested  in  any  thing  but  the  fortunes  of  sentient  beings,  and  that  every 
thing  partaking  of  the  nature  of  mental  emotion  must  have  for  its  object 
the  feelings,  past,  present,  or  possible,  of  something  capable  of  sensation. 
Independently,  therefore,  of  all  evidence,  and  without  the  help  of  any 
explanation,  we  should  have  been  apt  to  conclude,  that  the  emotions 
of  beauty  and  sublimity  must  have  for  their  objects  the  sufferings  or 
enjoyments  of  sentient  beings,  and  to  reject,  as  intrinsically  absurd  and 
incredible,  the  supposition,  that  material  objects,  which  obviously  do 
neither  hurt  nor  delight  the  body,  should  yet  excite,  by  their  mere 
physical  qualities,  the  very  powerful  emotions  which  are  sometimes 
excited  by  the  spectacle  of  beauty. 

"  Of  the  feelings,  by  their  connection  with  which  external  objects  be- 
come beautiful,  we  do  not  think  it  necessary  to  speak  more  minutely, 
and,  therefore,  it  only  remains,  under  this  preliminary  view  of  the  sub- 
ject, to  explain  the  nature  of  that  connection  by  which  we  conceive  this 
effect  to  be  produced.  Here,  also,  there  is  but  little  need  for  minute- 
ness or  fulness  of  enumeration.  Almost  every  tie  by  which  two  objects 
can  be  bound  together  in  the  imagination,  in  such  a  manner  that  the 
presentiment  of  the  one  shall  recall  the  memory  of  the  other,  or,  in  other 
words,  almost  every  possible  relation  which  can  subsist  between  such 
objects,  may  serve  to  connect  the  things  we  call  sublime  or  beautiful 
with  feelings  that  are  interesting  or  delightful.  It  may  be  useful,  how- 
ever, to  class  these  bonds  of  association  between  mind  and  matter  in  a 
rude  and  general  way. 

"  It  appears  to  us,  then,  that  objects  are  sublime  or  beautiful,  first, 
When  they  are  the  natural  signs  and  perpetual  concomitants  of  pleasur- 
able sensations,  or,  at  any  rate,  of  some  lively  feeling  or  emotion  in  our- 
selves, or  in  some  other  sentient  beings  ;  or  secondly,  When  they  are 
the  arbitrary  or  accidental  concomitants  of  such  feelings  ;  or  thirdly, 
When  they  bear  some  analogy  or  fancied  resemblance  to  things  with 
which  these  emotions  are  necessarily  connected." 

As  examples  of  the  first  of  these  classes  of  association  between  matter 
and  mind,  Lord  Jeffrey  instances  those  associations  where  the  object  is 
necessarily  and  universally  connected  with  the  feeling  by  the  law  of 
nature,  so  that  it  is  always  presented  to  the  senses  when  the  feeling  is 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


9 


presented  to  the  mind  ;  as  the  sight  or  the  sound  of  laughter,  with  the 
feeling  of  gaiety ;  of  weeping,  with  distress  ;  of  the  sound  of  thunder, 
with  ideas  of  danger  and  power  ;  of  a  young  and  heautiful  woman,  as 
viewed  by  the  pure  and  unenvying  eye  of  one  of  her  own  sex,  with 
youth  and  health,  innocence,  gaiety,  sensibility,  intelligence,  delicacy  or 
vivacity  ;  of  a  cultivated  landscape,  with  the  happiness  of  man  ;  of  wild 
mountain  scenery,  with  his  romance  ;  of  the  season  of  spring,  with  the 
renovation  of  life  ;  of  childhood,  with  innocence.  The  following  charm- 
ing picture,  illustrative  of  the  manner  in  which  we  are  affected  by  the 
beauty  of  landscape,  is  too  applicable  to  the  subject  of  the  present  work, 
to  allow  me  to  pass  it  over  without  doing  justice  to  it  in  his  Lordship's 
own  words : — 

"  It  is  easy  enough  to  understand  how  the  sight  of  a  picture  or 
statue  should  affect  us  nearly  in  the  same  way  as  the  sight  of  the  origi- 
nal ;  nor  is  it  much  more  difficult  to  conceive,  how  the  sight  of  a  cottage 
should 'give  us  something  of  the  same  feeling  as  the  sight  of  a  peasant's 
family,  and  the  aspect  of  a  town  raise  many  of  the  same  ideas  as  the 
appearance  of  a  multitude  of  persons.  We  may  begin  therefore  with  an 
example  a  little  more  complicated.  Take,  for  instance,  the  case  of  a 
common  English  landscape ;  green  meadows  with  fat  cattle  ;  canals  or 
navigable  rivers  ;  well  fenced,  well  cultivated  fields ;  neat,  clean,  scat- 
tered cottages ;  humble  antique  church,  with  churchyard  elms,  and 
crossing  hedge-rows,  all  seen  under  bright  skies,  and  in  good  weather  : 
there  is  much  beauty,  as  every  one  will  acknowledge,  in  such  a  scene. 
But  in  what  does  the  beauty  consist?  Not  certainly  in  the  mere  mixture 
of  colours  and  forms  ;  for  colours  more  pleasing,  and  lines  more  graceful, 
(according  to  any  theory  of  grace  that  may  be  preferred,)  might  be 
spread  upon  a  board  or  a  painter's  pallet,  without  engaging  the  eye  to  a 
second  glance,  or  raising  the  least  emotion  in  the  mind  ;  but  in  the  pic- 
ture of  human  happiness  that  is  presented  to  our  imaginations  and  affec- 
tions,— and  in  the  visible  and  unequivocal  signs  of  comfort ;  and  cheerful 
and  peaceful  enjoyment, — and  of  that  secure  and  successful  industry 
that  insures  its  continuance, — and  of  the  piety  by  which  it  is  exalted, — 
and  of  the  simplicity  by  which  it  is  contrasted  with  the  guilt  and  the 
fever  of  a  city  life, — in  the  images  of  health  and  temperance  and  plenty 
which  it  exhibits  to  every  eye, — and  in  the  glimpses  which  it  affords  to 
warmer  imaginations,  of  those  primitive  or  fabulous  times,  when  man  was 
uncorrupted  by  luxury  and  ambition,  and  of  those  humble  retreats  in 
which  we  still  delight  to  imagine  that  love  and  philosophy  may  find  an 
unpolluted  asylum.  At  all  events,  however,  it  is  human  feeling  that  ex- 
cites our  sympathy,  and  forms  the  object  of  our  emotions.    It  is  man, 


10 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


and  man  alone,  that  wc  see  in  the  beauties  of  the  earth  which  lie  in- 
habits ; — or,  if  a  more  sensitive  and  extended  sympathy  connect  us  with 
the  lower  families  of  animated  nature,  and  make  us  rejoice  with  the 
lambs  that  bleat  on  the  uplands,  or  the  cattle  that  ruminate  in  the  valley, 
or  even  with  the  living  plants  that  drink  the  bright  sun  and  the  balmy 
air  beside  them,  it  is  still  the  idea  of  enjoyment — of  feelings  that  animate 
sentient  beings — that  calls  forth  all  our  emotions,  and  is  the  parent  of 
all  the  beauty  with  which  we  proceed  to  invest  the  inanimate  creation 
around  us. 

"  Instead  of  this  quiet  and  tame  English  landscape,  let  us  take  a  Welsh 
or  a  Highland  scene,  and  see  whether  its  beauties  will  admit  of  being 
explained  on  the  same  principle.  Here  we  shall  have  lofty  mountains, 
and  rocky  and  lonely  recesses, — tufted  woods  hung  over  precipices, — 
lakes  intersected  with  castled  promontories, — ample  solitudes  of  un- 
ploughed  and  untrodden  valleys, — nameless  and  gigantic  ruins, — and 
mountain  echoes  repeating  the  scream  of  the  eagle  and  the  roar  of  the 
cataract.  This  too  is  beautiful ;  and,  to  those  who  can  interpret  the 
language  it  speaks,  far  more  beautiful  than  the  prosperous  scene  with 
which  we  have  contrasted  it.  Yet,  lonely  as  it  is,  it  is  to  the  recollec- 
tion of  man  and  of  human  feelings  that  its  beauty  also  is  owing.  The 
mere  forms  and  colours  that  compose  its  visible  appearance,  are  no  more 
capable  of  exciting  any  emotion  in  the  mind,  than  the  forms  and  colours 
of  a  Turkey  carpet.  It  is  sympathy  with  the  present  or  the  past,  or  the 
imaginary  inhabitants  of  such  a  region,  that  alone  gives  it  either  interest 
or  beauty  ;  and  the  delight  of  those  who  behold  it,  will  always  be  found 
to  be  in  exact  proportion  to  the  force  of  their  imaginations,  and  the 
warmth  of  their  social  affections.  The  leading  impressions  here,  are  those 
of  romantic  seclusion  and  primeval  simplicity  ;  lovers  sequestered  in  these 
blissful  solitudes,  '  from  towns  and  toils  remote  and  rustic  poets  and 
philosophers  communing  with  nature,  at  a  distance  from  the  low  pursuits 
and  selfish  malignity  of  ordinary  mortals  ; — then  there  is  the  sublime 
impression  of  the  Mighty  Power  which  piled  the  massive  cliffs  upon  one 
another,  and  rent  the  mountains  asunder,  and  scattered  their  giant 
fragments  at  their  base, — and  all  the  images  connected  with  the  monu- 
ments of  ancient  magnificence  and  extinguished  hostility — the  feuds, 
and  the  combats,  and  the  triumphs  of  its  wild  and  primitive  inhabitants, 
contrasted  with  the  stillness  and  desolation  of  the  scenes  where  they  lie 
interred, — and  the  romantic  ideas  attached  to  their  ancient  traditions 
and  the  peculiarities  of  their  present  life, — their  wild  and  enthusiastic 
poetry, — their  gloomy  superstitions, — their  attachment  to  their  chiefs, — 
the  dangers,  and  the  hardships,  and  enjoyments  of  their  lonely  huntings 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


11 


and  fishings, — their  pastoral  shielings  on  the  mountains  in  summer, — 
and  the  tales  and  the  sports  that  amuse  the  little  groups  that  are  frozen 
into  their  vast  and  trackless  valleys  in  winter.  Add  to  this  the  traces 
of  vast  and  obscure  antiquity  that  are  impressed  on  the  language  and 
habits  of  the  people,  and  on  the  cliffs,  and  caves,  and  gulfy  torrents  of 
the  land, — and  the  solemn  and  touching  reflection  perpetually  recurring, 
of  the  weakness  and  insignificance  of  perishable  man,  whose  generations 
thus  pass  away  into  oblivion,  with  all  their  toils  and  ambition,  while 
nature  holds  on  her  unvarying  course,  and  pours  out  her  streams,  and 
renews  her  forests,  with  undecaying  activity,  regardless  of  the  fate  of 
her  proud  and  perishable  sovereign." 

Of  the  second  class  of  associations,  those  in  which  the  external  object 
is  not  the  natural  and  necessary,  but  only  the  occasional  or  accidental 
concomitant  of  the  emotion  which  it  recalls,  Lord  Jeffrey  brings  forward 
instances  where  the  perception  of  beauty  is  not  universal,  but  entirely 
dependent  on  the  opportunities  which  each  individual  has  had  to  asso- 
ciate ideas  of  emotion  with  the  object  to  which  it  is  ascribed.  Take,  for 
example,  the  instance  of  the  beauty  of  woman — how  different  and  incon- 
sistent are  the  standards  fixed  for  it  in  Africa,  in  Asia,  and  in  Europe  ; 
in  Tartary  and  in  Greece  ;  in  Lapland,  Patagonia,  and  Circassia.  The 
same  national  difference  and  opposition  of  taste  occurs  regarding  land- 
scape, architecture,  dress,  and  indeed  every  external  object,  so  that  the 
remark  is  most  natural,  and  the  conclusion  irresistible,  that  if  there  really 
were  any  thing  absolutely  or  intrinsically  beautiful  in  any  of  the  forms 
thus  distinguished,  it  is  inconceivable  that  men  should  differ  so  widely 
in  their  conceptions  of  it ;  and  if  beauty  were  a  real  and  independent 
quality,  it  is  impossible  that  it  should  be  distinctly  and  clearly  felt  by 
one  class  of  persons,  where  another,  altogether  as  sensitive,  can  see 
nothing  but  its  opposite — and  if  it  were  actually  and  inseparably  attached 
to  certain  forms,  colours,  or  proportions,  it  must  appear  utterly  inexpli- 
cable, that  it  should  be  felt  and  perceived,  in  the  most  opposite  forms 
and  proportions,  in  objects  of  the  same  description.  A  similar,  difference 
of  taste  is  to  be  found  in  individuals  as  well  as  in  nations,  and  neces- 
sarily, in  an  infinitely  greater  variety. 

The  third  class  of  associations  is  that  which  external  objects  mav 
have  with  our  internal  feelings,  and  the  power  they  may  have  in  sug- 
gesting them,  in  consequence  of  a  sort  of  resemblance  or  analogy  which 
they  seem  to  have  to  their  natural  and  appropriate  objects.  The  lan- 
guage of  poetry  is  founded  upon  this  analogy — all  language  is  full  of  it 
— and  numerous  examples  of  it  will  exhibit  themselves  among  those 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


illustrations  of  the  theory  which  I  shall  have  occasion  to  give  in  the 
course  of  my  farther  and  more  detailed  exposition. 

Although  Mr.  Alison  seems  to  consider  that  the  actual  character  of 
beauty  or  of  sublimity  never  can  be  fully  developed  except  when  a  chain 
of  reverie  is  produced,  yet  the  necessity  of  such  a  chain  being  always 
preceded  by  a  primary  and  originating  simple  emotion,  is  fully  admitted 
by  him.  He  asserts  that  no  objects  or  qualities  of  objects  can  be  felt 
to  be  beautiful  or  sublime,  but  such  as  are  productive  of  some  simple 
emotion  ;  and  that,  whenever  we  would  explain  the  beauty  or  sublimity 
of  any  object,  we  uniformly  proceed  to  point  out  the  interesting  or  affect- 
ing quality  in  it  which  is  fitted  to  produce  this  simple  emotion.  It  is 
not  only  impossible  for  us  to  imagine  an  object  of  taste  that  is  not  a 
cause  of  emotion,  but  it  is  impossible  to  describe  any  such  object  with- 
out resting  the  description  on  that  quality.  "  Every  man,"  says  Mr. 
Alison,  "  has  had  reason  to  observe  a  difference  in  his  sentiments  with 
regard  to  the  beauty  of  particular  objects  from  those  of  other  people, 
either  in  his  considering  certain  objects  as  beautiful  which  did  not  appear 
so  to  them,  or  in  their  considering  certain  objects  as  beautiful  which  did 
not  appear  so  to  him.  There  is  no  instance  of  this  more  common  than 
in  the  case  of  airs  in  music.  In  the  first  case  of  such  a  difference  of 
opinion,  we  generally  endeavour  to  recollect  whether  there  is  not  some 
accidental  association  of  pleasure  which  we  have  with  such  objects,  and 
which  affords  us  that  delight  which  other  people  do  not  share  ;  and  it 
not  unfrequently  happens  that  we  assign  such  associations  as  the  cause 
of  our  pleasure,  and  as  an  apology  for  differing  with  them  in  opinion. 
In  the  other  case,  we  generally  take  it  for  granted  that  they  who  feel  a 
beauty  where  we  do  not,  have  some  pleasing  association  with  the  object 
in  question,  of  which  we  are  unconscious,  and  which  is  accordingly  pro- 
ductive to  them  of  that  delight  in  which  we  are  unable  to  share.  In 
both  cases,  though  we  may  not  discover  what  the  particular  association 
is,  we  do  not  fail  to  suppose  that  some  such  association  exists  which  is 
the  foundation  of  the  sentiment  of  beauty,  and  to  consider  this  difference 
of  opinion  as  sufficiently  accounted  for  on  such  a  supposition.  This  very 
natural  kind  of  reasoning  could  not  take  place  if  we  did  not  find,  from 
experience,  that  those  objects  only  are  productive  of  the  sentiment  of 
beauty,  which  are  capable  of  exciting  emotion." 

Just  so  it  is  that  our  tastes  change  from  infancy  to  manhood.  It  is 
only  when  we  reach  this  mature  state,  that  our  taste,  aided  by  edu- 
cation, much  observation,  and  perhaps,  too,  by  travel,  becomes  stored 
with  so  extensive  a  range  of  associations,  as  to  enable  us  to  discover  and 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


13 


to  relish  every  species  of  beauty  and  sublimity,  and  skilfully  to  select  and 
prefer  those  of  highest  poetical  influence.  And  to  render  this  state  the 
more  complete,  the  individual  must  not  have  been  chained  down  to  any 
one  narrowing  habit  of  thought,  either  professional  or  otherwise ;  for 
where  large  opportunities  of  emancipating  the  mind  from  such  trammels 
have  not  been  enjoyed,  the  taste  will  always  be  allied  to  the  occupation  ; 
and,  therefore,  it  is  chiefly  in  the  higher  stations,  and  more  liberal  profes- 
sions, that  delicate  and  correct  tastes  are  to  be  found.  Original  character, 
or  a  tendency  to  particular  emotions,  has  a  potent  effect.  To  quote  Mr 
Alison's  words: — u  There  are  men,  for  instance,  who,  in  all  the  varie- 
ties of  external  nature,  find  nothing  beautiful,  but  as  it  tends  to  awaken 
in  them  a  sentiment  of  sadness,  who  meet  the  return  of  spring  with 
minds  only  prophetic  of  its  decay,  and  who  follow  the  decline  of  autumn 
with  no  other  remembrance  than  that  the  beauties  of  the  year  arc  gone. 
There  arc  men,  on  the  contrary,  to  whom  every  appearance  of  nature  is 
beautiful,  as  awakening  a  sentiment  of  gaiety,  to  whom  spring  and 
autumn  alike  are  welcome,  because  they  bring  to  them  only  different 
images  of  joy ;  and  who,  even  in  the  most  desolate  and  wintry  scenes, 
arc  yet  able  to  discover  something  in  which  their  hearts  may  rejoice. 
It  is  not  surely  that  nature  herself  is  different,  that  effects  so  different 
are  produced  upon  the  imaginations  of  these  men  ;  but  it  is  because  the 
original  constitution  of  their  minds  has  led  them  to  different  habits  of 
emotion ;  because  their  imaginations  seize  only  those  expressions  in 
nature  which  arc  allied  to  their  prevailing  dispositions ;  and  because 
every  other  appearance  is  indifferent  to  them  but  those  which  fall  in 
with  the  peculiar  sensibility  of  their  hearts.  The  gaiety  of  nature  is 
alone  beautiful  to  the  cheerful  man  ;  its  melancholy  to  the  man  of  sad- 
ness, because  these  alone  are  the  qualities  which  accord  with  the  emo- 
tions they  are  accustomed  to  cherish,  and  in  which  their  imaginations 
delight  to  indulge."  Just  so,  are  different  minds  affected  by  the  gay  or 
the  grave  in  poetry.  Just  so,  when  gay  or  when  melancholy,  we  are 
affected  with  pain  by  the  very  same  things  that  gave  us  jrfeasure  when 
we  were  in  an  opposite  state ;  and  there  are  moments  when  some  secret 
spell  of  listlessness  hangs  over  our  minds,  so  as  utterly  to  prevent  us 
from  reaping  any  enjoyment  at  all  from  our  favourite  airs,  books,  or 
landscapes,  or  indeed  from  any  thing  pleasing  within  our  reach.  The 
most  glorious  spectacles  of  nature,  such  as  those  of  sunrise  or  sunset,  will 
affect  the  same  individual  in  a  greater  or  lesser  degree,  or  it  may  be  not  at 
all,  precisely  as  his  imagination  may  or  may  not  be  in  a  state  for  the  enter- 
tainment of  those  emotions  which  they  are  capable  of  exciting,  whilst 
under  a  favourable  state  of  the  imagination,  the  most  unpromising  objects 


14 


ON  TflE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


may  afford  us  delight.  I  have  elsewhere  illustrated  this  fact,  by  quoting 
at  full  length  that  beautiful  little  poetical  tale  by  Mr.  Crabbc,  called  "  The 
Lover's  Journey."  Here  I  shall  content  myself  with  shortly  noticing 
that  the  poet  describes  a  youth  mounting  bis  steed  gaily  in  a  fine  summer 
morning,  to  ride  to  a  neighbouring  town,  and  meet  by  appointment  the 
ladv  of  his  love.  He  travels  over  a  barren  heath,  through  lanes  of 
burning  sand,  over  a  common,  through  fens,  and  solitary  salt  marshes  ; 
in  short,  through  a  wretched  country,  remarkable  for  its  tedium  and 
monotony,  devoid  of  trees,  meagerly  covered  with  herbage  of  the  worst 
description,  and  thinly  animated  with  figures  in  themselves  any  thing  but 
agreeable.  Full  of  joyful  anticipation,  he  sees  nothing  but  beauty  and 
exhilaration  in  all  that  he  looks  upon.  He  reaches  the  town,  and  arrives 
at  the  house  of  his  fair  one,  where,  instead  of  finding  her,  he  receives  a 
note  informing  him  that  she  had  been  carried  off  by  a  friend  on  an 
excursion  to  her  country  house.  Her  note  bids  him  follow  her.  Again 
he  mounts,  though  in  a  very  bad  humour ;  and,  accordingly,  while  he 
now  rides  through  a  range  of  scenery  which  is  naturally  as  rich  and 
beautiful  as  the  former  was  poor  and  ugly  ;  and  although  all  the  acci- 
dental circumstances  connected  with  it  are  of  the  most  pleasing  and  en- 
livening description,  his  eye,  jaundiced  by  his  unlooked  for  disappoint- 
ment, turns  all  he  beholds  into  gall,  and  he  sees  nothing  but  deformity, 
both  physical  and  moral,  in  the  scenes  through  which  he  passes.  He 
meets  his  charmer  at  her  friend's  house,  and  returns  with  her  through  the 
same  lovely  scenes  to  the  town  where  she  lives.  They  gave  him  actual 
pain  before,  but  now  he  is  too  much  occupied  with  her  conversation,  and 
delighted  with  her  smiles,  to  notice  them  at  all,  more  than  if  he  were 
passing  through  them  blindfolded.  On  the  morning  of  the  ensuing  day,  he 
returns  home  through  the  same  dull  scenery  he  had  previously  traversed 
on  his  way  to  visit  the  lady,  but  having  now  left  his  imagination  behind 
with  her  who  has  his  heart  in  keeping,  he  passes  by  all  its  monotonous 
and  naturally  disagreeable  features,  as  if  the  shades  of  night  veiled 
them  from  his  view.  I  think  that  a  happier  illustration  than  this  tale 
affords  of  the  fact  that  our  emotions  of  beauty  are  altogether  dependent 
on  the  imagination,  cannot  be  produced.  To  use  the  poet's  own 
words  : — 

"  It  is  the  soul  that  sees  ;  the  outward  eyes 
Present  the  object,  but  the  mind  descries  ; 
And  thence  delight,  disgust,  or  cool  indifference  rise. 
When  minds  are  joyful,  then  we  look  around, 
And  what  is  seen,  is  all  on  fairy  ground  ; 
Again  they  sicken,  and  on  every  view 
Cast  their  own  dull  and  melancholy  hue  ; 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


15 


Or  if,  absorb'd  by  their  peculiar  cares, 
The  vacant  eye  on  viewless  matter  glares, 
Our  feelings  still  upon  our  views  attend, 
And  their  own  natures  to  the  objects  lend." 

Thus  it  is  that  minds  which  have  most  leisure  for  the  indulgence  of 
imagination,  have  the  greatest  aptitude  for  receiving  strong  impressions 
from  such  objects ;  and  thus  it  is  that  the  attention  required  for  the 
exercise  of  minute  criticism,  is  found  to  diminish  the  sense  of  the  beau- 
ties of  the  work  which  is  the  subject  of  it ;  and  from  the  same  cause  we 
find  that  young  people,  being  carried  away  by  their  imaginations,  have 
some  difficulty  in  forming  a  judgment  of  the  true  merits  of  any  composi- 
tion of  fancy.  To  which  I  may  add,  that  much  of  that  endless  variety, 
and  even  contrariety  of  opinion,  which  manifests  itself  among  readers 
regarding  the  merits  of  such  works,  may  be  attributed  to  the  difference 
in  the  nature  of  their  minds,  as  well  as  of  their  degree  of  excitability. 

Our  sense  of  the  sublimity  or  beauty  of  objects  depends  entirely  upon 
those  qualities  in  them  which  we  consider  at  the  moment.  On  first  see- 
ing the  Venus  de  Medecis,  or  the  Apollo  Belvedere,  the  delicacy,  mo- 
desty, and  tenderness  of  the  one,  and  the  grace,  dignity,  and  majesty  of 
the  other,  will  naturally  awaken  sympathetic  association — whilst,  at 
other  times,  the  consideration  of  their  mere  forms  as  works  of  art,  their 
dimensions,  their  proportions,  their  state  of  preservation,  the  history  of 
their  discovery,  or  even  the  sort  of  marble  of  which  they  are  made,  may 
stifle  all  the  emotions  of  beauty.  The  same  remark  is  applicable  to  poetry 
and  painting  ;  and  it  is  thus  that  the  too  great  exercise  of  criticism  often 
ends  in  the  destruction  of  the  sensibility  of  taste,  and  the  delight  pro- 
duced by  the  perception  of  beauty  or  sublimity  ceases  to  affect  us  in 
any  higher  degree  than  that  which  attaches  to  the  estimation  of  the  dex- 
terity of  art.  Familiarity  also  brings  us  to  look  without  emotion  upon 
those  very  objects  of  art  or  nature  which  once  produced  within  us  the 
liveliest  feelings  of  delight.  A  man  of  taste,  taking  up  his  residence  in 
a  romantic  district,  revels  at  first  rapturously  in  its  scenery;  but  fami- 
liarity soon  renders  him  indifferent  to  it,  except  when  his  attention  is 
called  to  its  beauties — as,  for  example,  when  it  becomes  necessary  to 
point  them  out  to  others,  or  when,  perhaps,  in  some  solitary  hour,  he  may 
wander  through  his  walks  in  dreamy  contemplative  admiration,  yielding 
himself  up,  at  every  turn,  to  the  successive  associations  that  may  be 
awakened  within  him.  In  the  same  way,  the  richest  and  most  ex- 
quisite specimens  of  art  that  may  adorn  a  mansion,  soon  cease  to  com- 
mand the  admiring  eye  of  the  owner,  except  when  it  is  thus  accidentally 
called  to  them.   On  the  same  principle,  every  one  will  see  that  the  Ilyssus, 


1() 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


the  Tybcr,  the  Forum,  the  Capitol,  could  not  have  produced  any  such 
emotion  in  the  Greek  or  the  Roman,  who  daily  beheld  them,  as  they  do 
in  us,  to  whom  they  are  hallowed  by  distance  and  heroic  association. 
Fashion,  too,  makes  us  one  day  admire  that  which  on  another  day  we 
despise,  and  which  again  finds  favour  in  our  sight  from  the  mere 
arbitrary  circumstance,  that  it  is  the  custom  of  the  great.  The  reign- 
ing mode,  both  as  to  form  and  colour,  is  held  to  be  intrinsically  ele- 
gant and  beautiful  by  the  young  and  the  frivolous  of  both  sexes,  while 
they  are  prone  to  ridicule  those  of  their  fathers.  But  had  they  been 
born  in  the  days  of  their  fathers,  they  would  have  just  as  certainly 
admired  that  which  they  now  laugli  at  as  absurd.  Those  who  are 
most  liable  to  the  education  of  fashion,  therefore,  are  the  people  on 
whom  the  slighter  kinds  of  associations  have  a  strong  effect.  In  the 
words  of  Mr.  Alison — "  A  plain  man  is  incapable  of  such  associations — 
a  man  of  sense  is  above  them — but  the  young  and  the  frivolous,  whose 
principles  of  taste  are  either  unformed,  or  whose  minds  are  unable  to 
sustain  any  settled  opinions,  are  apt  to  lose  sight  of  every  other  quality 
in  such  objects,  but  their  relation  to  the  practice  of  the  great,  and,  of 
course,  to  suffer  their  sentiments  of  beauty  to  vary  with  the  caprice  of 
this  practice.  It  is  the  same  cause  that  attaches  the  old  to  the  fashions 
of  their  youth.  They  are  associated  with  the  memory  of  their  better  days 
— with  a  thousand  recollections  of  happiness,  and  gaiety,  and  heartfelt 
pleasures,  which  they  now  no  longer  feel.  The  fashions  of  modern  times 
have  no  such  pleasing  associations  for  them.  They  are  connected  to 
them  only  with  ideas  of  thoughtless  gaiety,  or  childish  caprice.  It  is  the 
fashion  of  their  youth  alone  that  they  consider  as  beautiful." 

It  is  plain,  then,  that  there  can  be  no  intrinsic  beauty  or  deformity  in 
any  of  those  fashions,  and  that  the  forms,  colours,  and  materials  that  are 
felt  to  be  so  decidedly  beautiful  when  they  are  in  fashion,  are  sure  to 
lose  all  their  beauty  when  the  fashion  has  passed  away.  The  full-bot- 
tomed wigs  under  which  the  heroic  generals  of  Louis  XIV.  and  our  own 
William  fought,  had  no  doubt  a  noble  effect  in  the  eyes  of  the  people  of 
the  age  in  which  they  were  worn,  but,  when  so  used,  they  appear  ridicu- 
lous in  our  eyes  from  their  inseparable  association  with  the  ecclesiastical 
warriors,  and  forensic  combatants  by  whom  they  have  been  now  exclu- 
sively adopted. 

Mr.  Alison  happily  observes,  that  "  the  scenes  which  have  been  dis- 
tinguished by  the  residence  of  any  one  whose  memory  we  love  to  che- 
rish, or  whose  character  we  admire,  produce  in  us  the  strongest  emotions 
of  beauty  and  sublimity — '  Movemur  enim,  nescio  quo  ymcto,  locis  ipsis, 
in  quibus  eorum,  q?ws  dilicfimus,  aut  achniramnr,  adsunt  vestigia.'  The 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


scenes  themselves  may  be  little  beautiful,  but  the  delight  with  which  we 
recollect  the  traces  of  their  lives,  blends  itself  insensibly  with  the  emo- 
tions which  the  scenery  itself  excites  ;  and  the  admiration  which  these 
recollections  afford,  seems  to  give  a  kind  of  sanctity  to  the  place  where 
they  dwell,  and  converts  every  thing  into  beauty  that  appears  to  have 
been  connected  with  them.  There  are  scenes  undoubtedly  more  beauti- 
ful than  Runnymede,  yet  to  those  who  recollect  the  great  event  which 
passed  there,  there  is  no  scene  perhaps  which  so  strongly  seizes  upon 
the  imagination  ;  and  although  the  emotions  this  recollection  produces 
are  of  a  very  different  kind  from  those  which  the  mere  natural  scenery 
can  excite,  yet  they  unite  themselves  so  well  with  these  inferior  emotions, 
and  spread  so  venerable  a  charm  over  the  whole,  that  one  can  hardly 
persuade  oneself  that  the  scene  itself  is  not  entitled  to  this  admiration. 
The  valley  of  Vaucluse  is  celebrated  for  its  beauty,  yet  how  much  of  it 
has  been  owing  to  its  being  the  residence  of  Petrarch  \" 

This  species  of  association  must  have  been  frequently  recognized  by 
every  one  of  the  smallest  observation,  and  every  such  person  must 
admit  the  truth  of  Mr.  Alison's  remark,  that  "  the  majesty  of  the  Alps 
themselves  is  increased  by  the  remembrance  of  Hannibal's  march  over 
them  ;  and  who  is  there  who  can  stand  on  the  bank  of  the  Rubicon, 
without  feeling  his  imagination  kindle,  and  his  heart  beat  high  !" 

Such  associations  have  the  most  wonderful  effect  in  augmenting  the 
impression  of  beauty  or  sublimity  received  from  musical  composition. 
The  effects  of  the  Renz  des  Vaches  on  the  men  of  the  Swiss  regiment 
in  the  service  of  France,  are  well  known.  I  may  also  instance  what  has 
frequently  come  under  my  own  observation, — the  stirring  effect  produced 
on  the  officers  and  men  of  a  regiment  by  its  regimental  tune,  though  it 
had  in  it  no  merit  but  that  of  association  to  give  it  any  such  influence. 

"  The  beauty  of  any  scene  in  nature,"  says  Mr.  Alison,  "  is  seldom  so 
striking  to  others  as  it  is  to  a  landscape  painter,  or  to  those  who  profess 
the  beautiful  art  of  laying  out  grounds.  The  difficulties  both  of  inven- 
tion and  execution,  which,  from  their  professions,  are  familiar  to  them, 
render  the  profusion  with  which  nature  often  scatters  the  most  pictu- 
resque beauties,  little  less  than  miraculous.  Every  little  circumstance 
of  form  and  perspective,  and  light  and  shade,  which  are  unnoticed  by  a 
common  eye,  are  important  in  theirs,  and  mingling  in  their  minds  the 
ideas  of  difficulty  and  facility  in  overcoming  it,  produce  altogether  an 
emotion  of  delight  incomparably  more  animated  than  the  generality  of 
mankind  usually  derive  from  it." 

The  pleasure  derived  by  the  antiquarian  from  the  contemplation  of 
ancient  relics,  arises  from  his  imagination  being  carried  back  to  the  times 

B 


18 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


of  chivalry  and  patriotism.  There  are  few,  indeed,  who  have  not  felt 
somewhat  of  the  delight  which  is  thus  excited.  In  the  language  of  Mr. 
Alison, — "  Even  the  peasant,  whose  knowledge  of  former  times  extends 
but  to  a  few  generations,  has  yet  in  his  village  some  monument  of  the 
deeds  or  virtues  of  his  forefathers,  and  cherishes  with  a  fond  veneration 
the  memorial  of  those  good  old  times  to  which  his  imagination  returns 
with  delight,  and  of  which  he  loves  to  recount  the  simple  tales  that 
tradition  has  brought  him.  And  what  is  it  that  constitutes  the  emotion 
of  sublime  delight,  which  every  man  of  common  sensibility  feels  upon 
the  first  prospect  of  Rome  ?  It  is  not  the  scene  of  destruction  which  is 
before  him.  It  is  not  the  Tyber,  diminished  in  his  imagination  to  a  paltry 
stream,  flowing  amidst  the  ruins  of  that  magnificence  which  it  once 
adorned.  It  is  not  the  triumph  of  superstition  over  the  wreck  of  human 
greatness,  and  its  monuments  erected  upon  the  very  spot  where  the  first 
honours  of  humanity  have  been  gained.  It  is  ancient  Rome  which  fills 
his  imagination.  It  is  the  country  of  Caesar,  of  Cicero,  and  Virgil,  which 
is  before  him.  It  is  the  mistress  of  the  world  which  he  sees,  and  who 
seems  to  him  to  rise  again  from  her  tomb  to  give  laws  to  the  universe. 
All  that  the  labours  of  his  youth,  or  the  studies  of  his  maturer  age  have 
acquired,  with  regard  to  the  history  of  this  great  people,  open  at  once  on 
his  imagination,  and  present  him  with  a  field  of  high  and  solemn  imagery 
which  can  never  be  exhausted.  Take  from  him  these  associations, — 
conceal  from  him  that  it  is  Rome  that  he  sees,  and  how  different  would 
be  his  emotion  !" 

As  the  great  mass  of  mankind  live  in  the  world  without  receiving  any 
kind  of  delight  from  the  various  scenes  of  beauty  which  it  displays,  so  we 
may  all  remember  a  period  of  our  lives  when  our  minds  were  quite  as 
callous.  But  from  early  education,  an  acquaintance  with  poetry,  with 
the  romantic  part  of  history,  with  painting,  and  with  a  thousand  other 
causes  productive  of  associations,  this  new  and  invaluable  source  of  delight 
was  gradually  opened  to  us.  ce  Associations  of  this  kind,"  says  Mr. 
Alison,  "  when  acquired  in  early  life,  are  seldom  altogether  lost ;  and 
whatever  inconveniences  they  may  sometimes  have  with  regard  to  the 
general  character,  or  however  much  they  may  be  ridiculed  by  those  who 
do  not  experience  them,  they  are  yet  productive,  to  those  who  possess 
them,  of  a  perpetual  and  innocent  delight.  Nature  herself  is  their 
friend.  In  her  most  dreadful,  as  well  as  her  most  lovely  scenes,  they  can 
discover  something  either  to  elevate  their  imaginations,  or  to  move  their 
hearts ;  and  amid  every  change  of  scenery,  or  of  climate,  they  can  still  find 
themselves  among  the  early  objects  of  their  admiration  or  their  love." 

The  great  source  of  the  superiority  of  good  Landscape  Gardening  lies  in 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


19 


the  artist  removing  from  the  scene  of  his  operations  whatever  is  hostile  to 
its  effect  or  unsuited  to  its  character,  and  by  selecting  or  adding  only 
such  circumstances  as  accord  with  the  general  expression  of  the  scene, 
to  awaken  emotions  more  full,  more  simple,  and  more  harmonious,  than 
any  we  can  receive  from  the  scenes  of  nature  herself.  The  same  prin- 
ciples apply  to  the  artist's  choice  of  subjects  from  nature  for  land- 
scape painting — the  very  nature  of  which,  however,  yields  him  infinitely 
greater  facilities.  But  his  happy  selection  must  also  be  accompanied  by 
pure,  simple,  and  consistent  composition.  The  unlearned  eye  first  ad- 
mires painting  merely  as  an  art  of  imitation — it  is  only  from  the  progress 
of  our  sensibility,  and  the  poetical  cultivation  of  our  minds,  that  we  be- 
gin to  comprehend  the  greater  compositions  of  genius,  after  which  the 
unity  of  expression  is  felt  to  be  the  great  secret  of  the  power  of  painting. 
As  the  painter  enjoys  much  greater  facilities  than  the  landscape  gar- 
dener, so  the  poet,  by  speaking  directly  to  the  imagination,  has  immense 
advantages  over  the  painter,  who  addresses  himself  to  the  eye.  But  he  is 
subjected  to  the  same  rules  for  selection,  and  for  the  preservation  of 
unity  of  character  and  expression,  by  which,  indeed,  the  degree  of  the 
excellence  of  poetical  description  is  chiefly  determined.  In  short,  in 
Mr.  Alison's  words — "  In  all  the  Fine  Arts,  that  composition  is  most 
excellent,  in  which  the  different  parts  most  fully  unite  in  the  production 
of  one  unmingled  emotion,  and  that  taste  the  most  perfect,  where  the 
perception  of  this  relation  of  objects,  in  point  of  expression,  is  most  deli- 
cate and  precise." 

In  his  second  essay  Mr.  Alison  asks  the  question — What  is  the  source 
of  the  sublimity  and  beauty  of  the  material  world  ?  Many  objects  of  the 
material  world  are  productive  of  the  emotions  of  sublimity  and  beauty. 
Yet  matter  in  itself  is  unfitted  to  produce  any  kind  of  emotion.  The 
qualities  of  mere  matter  are  known  to  us  only  by  means  of  our  external 
senses,  which  can  merely  convey  to  us  sensation  and  perception,  and  never 
emotion.  The  smell  of  a  rose,  the  colour  of  scarlet,  the  taste  of  a  pine- 
apple, produce  agreeable  sensations,  not  agreeable  emotions;  whilst 
assafoetida  or  aloes  produce  disagreeable  sensations,  but  not  disagreeable 
emotions.  Now,  although  the  qualities  of  matter  are  incapable  of  pro- 
ducing emotion,  or  the  exercise  of  any  affection,  it  is  yet  obvious  that 
they  may  produce  this  effect  from  their  association  with  other  qualities, 
and  as  being  the  signs  or  expressions  of  such  qualities  as  are  fitted,  by 
the  constitution  of  our  nature,  to  produce  emotion.  "  Thus,"  to  use 
Mr.  Alison's  words,  "  in  the  human  body,  particular  forms  or  colours 
are  the  signs  of  particular  passions  or  affections.  In  works  of  art,  par- 
cular  forms  are  the  signs  of  dexterity,  of  taste,  of  convenience,  of  utility. 


20 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE, 


In  the  works  of  nature.,  particular  sounds  and  colours,  &c.  are  the  signs 
of  peace,  or  danger,  or  plenty,  or  desolation,  &c.  In  such  cases  the 
constant  connection  we  discover  between  the  sign  and  the  thing  signified, 
— between  the  material  quality,  and  the  quality  productive  of  emotion, — 
renders  at  last  the  one  expressive  of  the  other,  and  very  often  disposes 
us  to  attribute  to  the  sign,  that  effect  which  is  produced  only  by  the 
quality  signified.  The  material  qualities  which  distinguish  a  ship,  a 
plough,  a  printing  press,  or  a  musical  instrument,  do  not  solely  afford  us 
the  perception  of  certain  colours  or  forms ;  but,  along  with  this  percep- 
tion, bring  with  it  the  conception  of  the  different  uses  or  pleasures  which 
such  compositions  of  material  qualities  produce,  and  excite  in  us  the  same 
emotion  with  the  uses  or  pleasures  thus  signified.  As  in  this  manner 
the  utilities  or  pleasures  of  all  external  objects  are  expressed  to  us  by 
their  material  signs  of  colour  and  of  form,  such  signs  are  naturally  pro- 
ductive of  the  emotions  which  properly  arise  from  the  qualities  signified. 
All  our  knowledge  of  the  minds  of  other  men,  and  of  their  various  qualities, 
is  gained  by  means  of  material  signs.  Power,  strength,  wisdom,  forti- 
tude, justice,  benevolence,  magnanimity,  gentleness,  tenderness,  love,  sor- 
row, are  all  known  to  us  by  the  external  signs  of  them  in  the  countenance, 
gesture,  or  voice.  Such  material  signs  are  therefore  very  early  associated 
in  our  minds  with  the  qualities  they  signify ;  and  as  they  are  constant 
and  invariable,  they  soon  become  productive  to  us  of  the  same  emotions 
with  the  qualities  themselves."  We  learn  by  experience  that  certain 
qualities  of  mind  are  signified  by  certain  qualities  of  body.  When  we 
find  similar  qualities  of  body  in  inanimate  matter,  we  are  apt  to  attribute 
to  them  the  same  expression,  and  to  conceive  them  as  signifying  the  same 
qualities  in  this  case,  as  in  those  cases  where  they  derive  their  expres- 
sion immediately  from  mind.  Thus  the  strength,  delicacy,  boldness,  and 
modesty  of  mind,  are  naturally  and  invariably  applied  to  inanimate 
forms.  The  strength  of  the  oak,  the  delicacy  of  the  myrtle,  the  boldness 
of  a  rock,  and  the  modesty  of  the  violet,  ere  expressions  common  to  all 
languages,  and  so  "  common  that  they  are  scarcely  in  any  considered 
as  figurative ;  yet  every  man  knows,  that  strength  and  weakness,  bold- 
ness and  modesty,  are  qualities  not  of  matter  but  of  mind,  and  that  with- 
out our  knowledge  of  mind,  it  is  impossible  that  we  should  ever  have 
had  any  conception  of  them.  How  much  the  effect  of  descriptions  of 
natural  scenery  arises  from  that  personification  which  is  founded  upon 
such  associations,  I  believe  there  is  no  man  of  common  taste  who  must 
not  often  have  been  sensible." 

The  very  constitution  of  our  nature  leads  us  to  perceive  resemblances 
between  our  sensations  and  emotions,  and  consequentlv  between  the  ob- 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


21 


jects  that  produce  them.  "  Thus,"  says  Mr.  Alison,  "  there  is  some 
analogy  between  the  sensation  of  gradual  ascent,  and  the  emotion  of 
ambition, — between  the  sensation  of  gradual  descent,  and  the  emotion 
of  decay, — between  the  lively  sensation  of  sunshine,  and  the  cheerful 
emotion  of  joy, — between  the  painful  sensation  of  darkness,  and  the  di- 
spiriting emotion  of  sorrow.  In  the  same  manner,  there  are  analogies 
between  silence  and  tranquillity, — between  the  lustre  of  morning,  and 
the  gaiety  of  hope, — between  softness  of  colouring,  and  gentleness  of 
character, — between  slenderness  of  form,  and  delicacy  of  mind,  &c.  The 
objects,  therefore,  which  produce  such  sensations,  though  in  themselves 
not  the  immediate  signs  of  such  interesting  or  affecting  qualities,  yet, 
in  consequence  of  this  resemblance,  become  generally  expressive  of  them ; 
and,  if  not  always,  yet  at  those  times,  at  least,  when  we  are  under  the 
dominion  of  any  emotion,  serve  to  bring  to  our  minds  the  images  of  those 
affecting  or  interesting  qualities  which  we  have  been  accustomed  to  sup- 
pose they  resemble.  How  extensive  this  source  of  association  is,  may 
easily  be  observed  in  the  extent  of  such  kinds  of  figurative  expression  in 
every  language/' 

To  these  sources  of  general  association  we  must  add  those  which  pecu- 
liarly belong  to  individuals.  There  is  not  one  who  has  not  from  accident — 
from  his  studies — or  from  some  circumstances  of  his  life — established  cer- 
tain agreeable  or  disagreeable  associations  with  particular  colours,  sounds, 
or  forms,  which  never  fail  to  operate  the  moment  he  sees  or  hears  them. 

These  examples  are  enough  to  show  how  numerous  and  extensive 
those  associations  are  which  are  awakened  by  matter,  and  its  qualities 
which  have  resemblance  to  qualities  capable  of  producing  emotion.  The 
perception  of  the  one  immediately  suggests  the  other  ;  and  so  early  are 
these  associations  formed  that  it  becomes  difficult  for  us  to  avoid  attribut- 
ing to  the  sign  that  effect  which  is  alone  produced  by  the  quality  signified. 
"  If,"  says  Mr.  Alison,  "  the  qualities  of  matter  are  in  themselves  fitted 
to  produce  the  emotions  of  sublimity  or  beauty,  (or,  in  other  words,  are 
in  themselves  beautiful  or  sublime,)  I  think  it  is  obvious  that  they  must 
produce  these  emotions  independently  of  any  association.  If,  on  the  con- 
trary, it  is  found  that  these  qualities  only  produce  such  emotions  when 
they  are  associated  with  interesting  or  affecting  qualities,  and  that  when 
such  associations  are  destroyed  they  no  longer  produce  the  same  emo- 
tions, I  think  it  must  also  be  allowed  that  their  beauty  or  sublimity  is  to 
be  ascribed,  not  to  the  material,  but  to  the  associated  qualities!' 

Now  the  senses  by  which  we  discover  beauty  or  sublimity  in  material 
objects  are  those  of  hearing  and  seeing.  The  objects  of  the  first  are 
sounds,  simple  or  compound  ;  of  the  second,  colours,  forms,  and  motion. 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


Of  simple  sounds  we  have  those  which  occur  in  inanimate  nature — 
the  notes  and  cries  of  animals — and  the  tones  of  the  human  voice.  Now, 
if  any  of  these  are  really  intrinsically  sublime  or  beautiful  in  themselves, 
how  does  it  happen  that  we  find  contrary  sounds  producing  the  same 
effect,  and  the  same  sounds  producing  different  effects,  according  to  the 
associations  with  which  they  are  connected  ?  All  sounds  are  sublime 
which  are  associated  with  ideas  of  danger,  as  thunder — the  howling  of 
a  storm — the  rombo  of  an  earthquake — and  the  roar  of  artillery  :  or 
with  ideas  of  power  or  might,  as  the  rushing  sound  of  a  torrent — the 
fall  of  a  cataract — the  uproar  of  a  tempest — the  explosion  of  gunpowder 
— and  the  dashing  of  the  waves  :  or  with  ideas  of  majesty,  solemnity,  or 
deep  melancholy,  or  any  other  such  strong  emotion,  as  the  sound  of  the 
trumpet  and  other  warlike  instruments — the  tones  of  the  organ — the 
sound  of  the  curfew — and  the  tolling  of  the  passing  bell.  Now,  if  such 
sounds  as  these  had  any  inherent  character  of  sublimity  in  them,  the 
same  sounds  would  at  all  times  produce  the  same  emotions.  But  let  us 
take  for  example  the  sound  of  thunder,  which  is  perhaps  of  all  others  in 
nature  the  most  sublime.  "  In  the  generality  of  mankind/'  says  Mr. 
Alison,  "  this  sublimity  is  founded  on  awe,  and  some  degree  of  terror. 
Yet  how  different  is  the  emotion  which  it  gives  to  the  peasant  who  sees 
at  last,  after  a  long  drought,  the  consent  of  Heaven  to  his  prayers  for 
rain, — to  the  philosopher,  who,  from  the  height  of  the  Alps,  hears  it  roll 
beneath  his  feet, — to  the  soldier,  who,  under  the  impression  of  ancient 
superstition, .welcomes  it  upon  the  moment  of  engagement  as  the  omen 
of  victory !  In  all  these  cases  the  sound  itself  is  the  same ;  but  how 
different  the  nature  of  the  sublimity  it  produces  !  There  is  nothing 
more  common  than  for  people  who  are  afraid  of  thunder  to  mistake  some 
very  common  and  indifferent  sound  for  it ;  as  the  rumbling  of  a  cart,  or 
the  rattling  of  a  carriage.  While  their  mistake  continues  they  feel  the 
sound  as  sublime.  The  moment  they  are  undeceived,  they  are  the  first 
to  laugh  at  their  error,  and  to  ridicule  the  sound  that  occasioned  it. 
Children  at  first  are  as  much  alarmed  at  the  thunder  of  the  stage  as  at 
real  thunder.  Whenever  they  find  that  it  is  only  a  deception,  they  amuse 
themselves  with  mimicking  it.  It  may  be  observed,  also,  that  very  young 
children  show  no  symptoms  of  fear  or  admiration  at  thunder,  unless,  per- 
haps when  it  is  painfully  loud,  or  when  they  see  other  people  alarmed 
about  them,  obviously  from  their  not  having  yet  associated  with  it  the 
idea  of  danger— and  perhaps,  also,  from  this  cause,  that  our  imagination 
assists  the  report,  and  makes  it  appear  much  louder  than  it  really  is,  a 
circumstance  which  seems  to  be  confirmed  by  the  common  mistake  we 
make  of  taking  very  inconsiderable  noises  for  it."    In  support  of  this 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


23 


observation  of  Mr.  Alison,  I  may  mention  a  common  trick  of  my  boy- 
hood, which  I  often  performed  to  the  infinite  alarm  of  certain  ladies. 
I  used  stealthily  to  hold  a  sheet  of  drawing  paper  over  the  window, 
and  whilst  I  pretended  to  listen  as  if  I  had  heard  thunder  afar  off,  I 
gently  agitated  the  paper,  and  so  produced  an  exact  imitation  of  the 
sound  of  its  distant  rolling,  to  the  great  discomfiture  of  my  audience. 
In  the  same  way  the  sound  of  cannon  is  sublime  from  the  destructive 
power  we  associate  with  it.  But  although  the  noise  of  artillery  and 
musquetry  in  a  distant  engagement,  associated  as  it  is  with  the  fell  work 
that  is  doing,  is  awfully  sublime,  the  same  sound  when  heard  in  a  review 
loses  all  such  effect ;  and,  if  not  painful  to  the  ear,  is  more  likely  to  pro- 
mote laughter  than  any  other  feeling.  So  it  is  with  all  the  other  sounds 
that  have  been  mentioned.  Whilst  loud  and  tumultuous  sounds  very  gen- 
erally produce  emotions  of  sublimity,  we  often  find  the  same  emotions 
produced  by  low  and  feeble  sounds.  That  low  moaning  which  precedes 
the  burst  of  the  storm  is  often  more  sublime  than  the  burst  of  the  storm 
itself.  The  buzz  of  flies  in  the  deep  silence  of  a  summer's  day,  associated 
as  it  is  with  the  power  of  the  Great  Creator  of  all  things,  who  has  thus 
called  so  incalculable  an  exuberance  of  happy  animal  life  into  being,  to 
exist  only  for  a  brief  space,  as  if  it  were  a  type  of  the  brevity  of  the 
life  of  man,  is  truly  sublime  to  the  reflective  mind.  The  falling  of  a  drop 
of  water,  a  sound  most  insignificant  in  itself  at  all  other  times,  becomes 
sublime  when  heard  at  intervals  descending  from  the  vaulted  roof  of 
some  lofty  cathedral  or  cavern.  Nay,  even  the  vulgar  sound  of  a  ham- 
mer becomes  sublime  when  we  know  that  it  is  employed  in  the  erec- 
tion of  the  scaffold  on  which  mistaken  or  misled  patriotism  is  about  to 
suffer;  or  when  heard,  as  in  Shakspeare,  during  the  night  previous  to  a 
battle,  when 

 "  from  the  tents 

The  armourer's  accomplishing  the  knights. 
With  busy  hammers  closing  rivets  up, 
Give  dreadful  note  of  preparation."' 

The  buzz  of  flies,  the  dropping  of  water,  and  the  sound  of  a  hammer, 
are  sounds  so  truly  uninteresting  in  themselves,  that  their  sublimity 
in  the  instances  quoted  can  only  be  attributed  to  the  qualities  of  which 
they  are  the  signs.  The  trumpet  becomes  sublime  or  ludicrous,  just  as 
it  is  used  in  battle  or  at  a  raree-show ;  and  in  the  same  way  the  sound 
of  a  bell  becomes  sublime  or  the  reverse,  as  it  may  be  carried  before  a 
funeral,  as  we  often  see  it  in  Roman  Catholic  processions,  or  hung  to  a 
dustman's  cart. 

The  sounds  productive  of  the  emotion  of  Beauty,  such  as  that  of  the 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


gentle  waterfall — the  murmuring  of  a  rivulet — the  soft  whispering  of  a 
zephyr — the  sheep-fold  bell — the  sound  of  the  curfew — are  all  subject 
to  the  same  changes.    The  curfew,  for  instance,  which 

 "  tolls  the  knell  of  parting  day," 

and  which  is  so  beautiful  in  moments  of  melancholy  or  tranquillity,  is 
directly  the  reverse  in  joyful  or  cheerful  moments.  The  sound  of  the 
waterfall  is  delightful  or  disagreeable,  just  as  it  is  heard  amidst  the  luxu- 
riance of  summer  scenery,  or  the  rigours  of  winter.  The  sound  of  the 
hunting-horn,  so  exhilarating  and  picturesque  in  seasons  of  gaiety,  is  in- 
supportable in  hours  of  melancholy.  There  is  but  little  beauty  in  the 
harsh  twang  of  the  postman's  horn ;  but  associated,  as  it  is  by  Cowper, 
with  the 

 "  news  from  all  nations  lumbering  at  his  back," 

and  the  quiet  domestic  enjoyment  of  the  evening  tea-table  party,  where 
they  are  about  to  be  eagerly  perused,  it  receives  a  charm  which  partakes 
of  the  beautiful.  But  it  is  only  when  we  happen  to  be  in  that  temper 
and  condition  of  mind  which  suits  with  the  emotions  of  which  they  are 
expressive,  that  such  sounds  are  capable  of  exciting  them.  Whilst  in 
such  a  condition,  the  sound  of  a  cascade  or  a  hunting-horn  might  even 
be  imitated  so  as  to  awaken  all  those  emotions  which  would  arise  from 
the  real  sounds,  but  the  moment  the  trick  was  discovered,  emotions  of 
ridicule  alone  would  be  produced. 

The  notes  or  cries  of  some  animals  are  highly  sublime ;  such  as  the 
roar  of  the  lion — the  growl  of  the  bear — the  howl  of  the  wolf — the 
scream  of  the  eagle — because  associated  with  animals  remarkable  for 
their  strength,  and  formidable  from  their  ferocity.  There  is  not  one  of 
these  sounds  that  may  not  be  exactly  imitated  ;  and  whilst  the  deception 
is  kept  up,  the  sublime  emotions  will  be  produced,  to  cease,  and  to  be 
converted  into  those  of  ridicule  the  moment  the  deceit  is  discovered. 
"  Then,"  says  Mr.  Alison,  "  the  howl  of  the  wolf  is  little  distinguished 
from  the  howl  of  the  dog,  either  in  its  tone  or  in  its  strength  ;  but  there  is 
no  comparison  between  their  sublimity.  There  are  few,  if  any,  of  these 
sounds  so  loud  as  the  most  common  of*  all  sounds,  the  lowing  of  a  cow. 
Yet  this  is  the  very  reverse  of  sublimity.  Imagine  this  sound,  on  the  con- 
trary, expressive  of  fierceness  or  strength,  and  there  can  be  no  doubt  that 
it  would  become  sublime.  The  hooting  of  the  owl  at  midnight,  or  amid 
ruins,  is  strikingly  sublime  ;  the  same  sound  at  noon,  or  during  the  day,  is 
very  far  from  being  so.  The  scream  of  the  eagle  is  simply  disagreeable 
when  the  bird  is  either  tame  or  confined ;  it  is  sublime  only  when  it  is 
heard  amid  rocks  and  deserts,  and  when  it  is  expressive  to  us  of  liberty  and 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


25 


independence,  and  savage  majesty.  The  neighing  of  a  war-horse  in 
the  field  of  battle,  or  of  a  young  and  untamed  horse  when  at  large  among 
mountains,  is  powerfully  sublime.  The  same  sound  in  a  cart-horse,  or 
a  horse  in  the  stable,  is  simply  indifferent,  if  not  disagreeable.  No 
sound  is  more  absolutely  mean  than  the  grunting  of  swine.  The  same 
sound  in  the  wild-boar — an  animal  remarkable  both  for  fierceness  and 
strength — is  sublime.  The  low  and  feeble  sounds  of  animals  which  are 
generally  considered  the  reverse  of  sublime,  are  rendered  so  by  associa- 
tion. The  hissing  of  a  goose,  and  the  rattle  of  a  child's  play-thing,  are 
both  contemptible  sounds ;  but  wheiuthe  hissing  sound  comes  from  the 
mouth  of  a  dangerous  serpent,  and  the  noise  of  the  rattle  is  that  of  the 
rattlesnake,  although  they  do  not  differ  from  the  others  in  intensity,  they 
are  both  of  them  highly  sublime." 

That  it  is  from  association  alone  that  the  beauty  of  the  notes  of  ani- 
mals arises,  will  appear  evident  from  the  following  examples.  Nothing 
can  be  more  silly  or  absurd  than  the  imitated  sounds  of  the  notes  of  the 
cuckoo  as  emitted  by  a  child's  toy,  or  by  the  machinery  of  a  German 
clock.  But  when  we  hear  the  bird  itself  in  the  beginning  of  spring, 
how  sweetly  its  notes  fall  upon  the  ear,  associated  as  they  are  with 
primroses,  and  all  the  other  budding  beauties  of  nature  !  And  then, 
suppose  that  whilst  walking  abroad  at  such  a  season,  some  one  were  to 
deceive  us  by  means  of  the  wooden  toy,  would  not  all  these  exquisite 
feelings  rush  upon  our  minds,  as  certainly  as  if  we  were  listening  to  the 
real  notes  of  the  bird  ?  and  would  not  they  all  fly  from  us  at  once  the 
moment  that  the  deception  should  be  discovered  ?  Then  we  know  that 
those  who  from  youth,  from  lack  of  education,  or  from  other  circum- 
stances, have  formed  no  such  associations,  feel  no  such  emotions  of  beauty 
from  sounds  which  deeply  affect  those  who  are  more  favourably  circum- 
stanced. A  peasant  laughs  if  you  ask  him  to  admire  the  call  of  a  goat, 
the  bleat  of  a  sheep,  or  the  lowing  of  a  cow,  yet  association  makes  all 
these  delightful  to  cultivated  minds.  A  child  shows  no  symptom  of 
admiration  at  those  sounds  in  rural  scenery,  which  to  other  people  are 
most  affecting,  and  we  can  all  look  back  to  a  period  in  our  lives  when 
we  were  altogether  unaffected  by  those  beautiful  sounds  which  occur  in 
the  country,  and  we  shall  find  that  the  period  when  we  first  became 
sensible  of  their  beauty,  was  that  when  we  first  began  to  feel  them  as 
expressive  of  those  associations  which  we  have  acquired  either  from  our 
own  observation  of  nature,  or  from  the  perusal  of  poetical  works.  And 
then,  when  we  travel  into  distant  countries,  we  find  ourselves  shocked 
with  the  notes  of  animals,  which,  from  certain  associations,  are  parti- 
cularly agreeable  to  the  natives.    The  cry  of  the  stork,  for  instance,  is 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


anything  but  pleasing  to  us,  whilst  to  the  Hollander  it  is  singularly 
beautiful,  owing  to  the  bird  being  with  him  the  object  of  a  pleasing  po- 
pular superstition.  The  bleating  of  a  lamb  is  beautiful  on  the  hillside 
in  a  fine  spring  day,  but  it  fills  us  with  the  most  disagreeable  emotions 
w  hen  we  hear  it  in  a  town,  in  winter,  coming  from  the  condemned  cell 
of  the  butcher.  The  lowing  of  a  cow  is  beautiful  in  a  pastoral  scene, 
but  it  is  absolutely  disagreeable  in  the  farm-yard,  and  most  painful  when 
it  conies  from  within  the  walls  of  the  shambles.  Even  the  song  of  the 
nightingale,  so  charming  in  the  twilight  or  night,  is  so  much  disregarded 
during  the  dav,  as  to  give  rise  to  the  common  mistake  that  it  never  sings  but 
at  night.  If  such  sounds  as  these,  which  have  been  now  enumerated,  were 
beautiful  in  themselves,  they  would  necessarily  be  at  all  times  beautiful. 

On  the  principle  of  the  absolute  and  independent  sublimity  or*  beauty 
inherent  in  sounds,  it  is  impossible  to  explain  the  fact  of  the  same  effect 
being  produced  by  sounds  very  opposite  in  their  nature.  Mr.  Alison 
tells  us,  that "  there  is  certainly  no  resemblance,  as  sounds,  between  the 
noise  of  thunder  and  the  hissing  of  a  serpent — between  the  growling  of 
a  tiger  and  the  explosion  of  gunpowder — between  the  scream  of  the 
eagle  and  the  shouting  of  a  multitude  ;  yet  all  of  these  are  sublime.  In 
the  same  manner,  there  is  as  little  resemblance  between  the  tinkling  of 
the  sheep-fold  bell  and  the  murmuring  of  the  breeze — between  the  hum 
of  the  beetle  and  the  song  of  the  lark — between  the  twitter  of  the  swal- 
low and  the  sound  of  the  curfew  ;  yet  all  these  are  beautiful."  But  the 
various  modes  by  which  they  excite  in  us  the  same  emotions,  are  easily 
explained  and  accounted  for  on  the  principle  of  association. 

The  tones  of  the  human  voice  are  associated  in  our  imaginations  with 
the  qualities  of  mind  of  which  they  are  in  general  expressive  ;  and  the 
beauty  or  sublimity  of  such  tones  arises  from  the  nature  of  the  qualities 
they  express,  and  not  from  the  nature  of  the  sounds  themselves.  Such 
sounds  are  beautiful  or  sublime  only  as  they  express  passions  or  affec- 
tions which  excite  our  sympathy.  The  tones  peculiar  to  anger,  peevish- 
ness, malice,  envy,  misanthropy,  deceit,  &c,  are  neither  agreeable  nor 
beautiful.  That  of  good  nature  is  agreeable  at  particular  seasons,  but 
we  regret  the  want  of  it  more  than  wre  enjoy  its  presence.  On  the  con- 
trary, the  tones  expressive  of  hope,  joy,  humility,  gentleness,  modesty, 
melancholy,  &c,  though  all  very  different,  are  all  beautiful,  because  the 
qualities  they  express  are  the  objects  of  interest  and  approbation.  For  a 
similar  reason,  the  tones  expressive  of  magnanimity,  fortitude,  self-denial, 
patience,  resignation,  &c.,  are  all  sublime.  But  the  effect  of  such  sounds 
is  limited  by  the  temper  of  mind  in  which  we  happen  to  be.  To  a  man 
in  grief,  the  tone  of  cheerfulness  is  painful — that  of  indignation  is  un- 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


27 


pleasant  to  the  man  in  a  state  of  placidity  of  temper — that  of  patience  is 
contemptible  to  an  irritated  man — to  the  peevish  the  voice  of  humility 
is  provoking.  Now,  if  the  beauty  or  sublimity  of  such  tones  were  inde- 
pendent of  the  qualities  of  mind  we  associate  with  them,  the  same  sounds 
would  uniformly  produce  the  same  emotions. 

Sounds  united  by  certain  laws  produce  music.  Its  essence  consists 
in  continued  sounds,  which  must  have  a  relation  to  each  other.  What 
thought  is  to  the  arrangement  of  words,  the  key  or  fundamental  tone  is 
to  the  arrangement  of  sounds,  and  to  it  all  the  other  sounds  in  the  series 
must  bear  relation.  The  succession  of  the  sounds  must  possess  a  regu- 
larity as  to  time.  The  two  circumstances,  therefore,  which  determine 
the  nature  or  character  of  every  musical  composition,  are  the  nature  of 
the  key,  and  the  nature  of  the  progress — the  nature  of  the  fundamental 
governing  sound,  and  the  nature  of  the  time  of  the  succession.  The 
relation  of  the  fundamental  tone,  in  musical  compositions,  to  the  ex- 
pression of  the  qualities  of  mind,  is  so  strong  that  all  musicians  under- 
stand what  keys  or  tones  are  fitted  for  the  expression  of  those  affections. 
We  may  find  a  difference  of  opinion  as  to  whether  any  piece  of  music  is 
beautiful  or  not ;  but  whether  its  sounds  are  gay  or  solemn — cheerful 
or  melancholy — elevating  or  depressing — is  seldom  matter  of  dispute. 
When  any  musical  composition  affects  us  with  the  emotions  of  beauty 
or  sublimity,  it  must  be  from  the  associations  which  we  connect  with  it, 
or  the  qualities  of  which  it  is  expressive  to  us.  If  the  beauty  or  music 
arose  from  the  regularity  of  its  composition,  according  to  the  laws  which 
are  necessary  to  the  constitution  of  music,  every  composition  where 
those  laws  were  observed  would  be  beautiful.  But  if  a  composition  ex- 
presses no  sentiment,  a  common  hearer  feels  no  beauty  in  it ;  and  if  it 
possesses  neither  novelty  nor  skill,  a  connoisseur  in  music  feels  as  little 
of  its  emotion,  and,  consequently,  all  the  world  pronounce  it  to  be  bad 
music.  If  any  one  were  asked  what  it  was  that  rendered  an  air  so 
beautiful,  he  would  answer,  because  it  was  so  plaintive,  solemn,  cheer- 
ful, tender,  gay,  or  elevating,  &c. ;  but  he  would  never  think  of  describ- 
ing its  peculiar  nature  as  a  composition  of  sounds.  Music  then  is  pro- 
ductive of  two  distinct  pleasures — that  mechanical  pleasure  which,  by 
the  constitution  of  our  nature,  accompanies  the  perception  of  a  regular 
succession  of  related  sounds — and  that  pleasure  which  originates  the 
emotions  of  sublimity  or  beauty,  by  the  expression  of  some  pathetic  or  in- 
teresting affection,  or  by  being  the  sign  of  some  pleasing  or  valuable  quality. 

In  addition  to  these  remarks,  I  may  observe  that  early  individual 
associations  with  certain  airs,  will  always  excite  the  strongest  emotions 
of  beauty  or  sublimity  in  our  minds,  and  will  melt  us  to  tenderness,  or 


28 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


excite  us  to  fury.  In  illustration  of  this,  I  may  here  repeat  an  anecdote 
which  I  have  given  in  another  work.  Some  Scottish  officers  were  coast- 
ing along  the  shores  of  the  Mediterranean  in  a  felucca;  a  woman's  voice 
came  warbling  on  their  ears  from  the  bosom  of  a  grove ;  the  air  was 
that  lovely,  simple,  and  touching  melody  of  their  native  land,  The  Broom 
of  the  Cowdenknoics.  The  associations  it  awakened  were  such  as  to 
n lake  every  chord  of  their  manly  hearts  vibrate  with  emotion,  and  they 
wept  They  landed  in  quest  of  the  songstress,  when,  to  their  surprise, 
they  discovered  an  old  Scottish  woman,  seated  at  her  cottage  door, 
twirling  her  distaff,  and  lightening  her  task  with  these  long-cherished 
strains  of  her  youth.  She  was  the  widow  of  a  soldier  who  had  been 
killed  in  battle,  and  she  had  been  thrown  by  the  tide  of  accident  into 
the  spot  where  the  gentlemen  found  her.  Their  grateful  feelings 
prompted  them  to  offer  to  convey  her  to  her  native  country,  in  return 
for  the  delight  they  had  experienced  from  the  pleasurable  associations 
with  home  which  her  notes  had  awakened.  But,  alas !  all  her  friends 
were  dead — her  native  country  was  no  longer  her  country — she  was, 
as  it  were,  rooted  in  the  soil  where  she  now  vegetated,  and,  perhaps,  she 
enjoyed  her  indulgence  in  those  visionary  visitations  to  the  scenes  of  her 
youth,  which  the  singing  of  its  ballads  procured  for  her,  more  than  she 
could  have  done  the  really  visiting  her  native  land. 

The  sense  of  sight  enables  us  to  discover  beauty  or  sublimity  in  a 
much  greater  number  of  external  objects  than  any  of  the  other  senses — 
a  circumstance  which  inclines  us  to  give  greater  confidence  to  that  sense 
than  to  the  rest ;  and  thus  it  is  that  the  visible  qualities  of  objects  be- 
come in  a  great  measure  the  signs  of  all  their  other  qua^ties.  Mr. 
Alison  thus  explains  this  proposition  :- — "  Not  only  the  smell  of  the  rose 
or  the  violet,  is  expressed  to  us  by  their  colours  and  forms ;  but  the 
utility  of  a  machine — the  elegance  of  a  design — the  proportion  of  a 
column — the  speed  of  the  horse — the  ferocity  of  the  lion- — even  all  the 
qualities  of  the  human  mind,  are  naturally  expressed  to  us  by  certain 
visible  appearances,  because  our  experience  has  taught  us  that  such 
qualities  are  connected  with  such  appearances,  and  the  presence  of  the 
one  immediately  suggests  to  us  the  idea  of  the  other.  Such  visible  quali- 
ties, therefore,  are  gradually  considered  as  the  signs  of  other  qualities, 
and  are  productive  to  us  of  the  same  emotions  with  the  qualities  they 
signify.  But,  besides  this,  it  is  also  to  be  observed,  that  by  this  sense 
we  not  only  discover  the  nature  of  individual  objects,  and  therefore 
naturally  associate  their  qualities  with  their  visible  appearance,  but  that 
by  it  also  we  discover  the  relation  of  objects  to  each  other;  and  that 
hence  a  great  variety  of  objects  in  nature  become  expressive  of  qualities 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


29 


which  do  not  immediately  belong  to  themselves,  but  to  the  objects  with 
which  we  have  found  them  connected.  Thus,  for  instance,  it  is  by  this 
sense  that  we  discover  that  the  eagle  inhabits  among  rocks  and  moun- 
tains— that  the  redbreast  leaves  the  woods  in  winter  to  seek  shelter  and 
food  among  the  dwellings  of  men — that  the  song  of  the  nightingale  is 
peculiar  to  the  evening  and  the  night,  &c.  In  consequence  of  this  per- 
manent connection,  these  animals  acquire  a  character  from  the  scenes 
they  inhabit,  or  the  seasons  in  which  they  appear,  and  are  expressive  to 
us,  in  some  measure,  of  the  character  of  these  seasons  and  scenes.  It  is 
hence  that  so  many  objects  become  expressive,  which  perhaps  in  them- 
selves could  never  have  been  so — that  the  curfew  is  so  solemn  from 
accompanying  the  close  of  day — the  twitter  of  the  swallow  so  cheerful 
from  its  being  heard  in  the  morning — the  bleating  of  sheep,  the  call  of 
the  goat,  and  the  lowing  of  kine,  so  beautiful  from  their  occurring  in 
pastoral  or  romantic  situations  ; — in  short,  that  the  greatest  number  of 
natural  objects  acquire  their  expression  from  their  connection  with  par- 
ticular or  affecting  scenes." 

Colours  have  the  power  of  exciting  emotions,  from  associations  arising 
from  the  nature  of  objects  permanently  coloured.  White  is  expressive 
of  the  cheerfulness  which  the  return  of  day  brings  with  it ;  black,  as  the 
colour  of  darkness,  is  expressive  of  gloom  or  melancholy ;  blue,  the 
colour  of  a  serene  sky,  is  expressive  of  something  of  the  same  pleasing 
and  temperate  character ;  green  is  associated  with  spring  and  all  its 
charms.  Many  colours  derive  expression  from  their  analogies  with 
certain  affections  of  the  human  mind  ;  soft  or  strong,  mild  or  bold,  gay 
or  gloomy,  cheerful  or  solemn,  are  terms  applied  to  colours  in  all  lan- 
guages. Others  acquire  character  from  accidental  association  ;  purple 
and  ermine  have  their  dignity  from  association  with  the  robes  of  kings  ; 
scarlet,  as  the  dress  of  our  army,  has  a  character  correspondent  to  its 
employment,  and,  perhaps,  it  was  this  association  that  induced  the  blind 
man  to  liken  his  notion  of  scarlet  to  the  sound  of  a  trumpet.  It  is  pos- 
sible that  certain  colours  may,  of  themselves,  produce  agreeable  or  dis- 
agreeable physical  sensations  in  the  organs  of  vision,  just  as  there  may 
be  painful  sounds,  but  this  circumstance  does  not  affect  the  question. 
Most  colours  are  considered  beautiful  in  one  country,  and  not  so  in 
another ;  black,  which  is  to  us  unpleasant,  as  associated  with  death,  is 
otherwise  to  the  Spaniard  or  Venetian,  with  whom  it  is  the  dress  of  the 
great ;  yellow  in  dress  is  to  us  disagreeable,  whilst  in  China  it  is  the 
favourite  colour,  and  sacred  to  the  empire.  To  us  white  is  beautiful, 
in  China  it  is  disagreeable,  as  being  the  colour  of  mourning.  A  new 
colour  in  dress  is  never  admired  till  it  has  been  worn  by  persons  of  rank 


30 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


and  elegance,  and  thus  become  associated  with  them  ;  and  so,  when 
they  cease  to  wear  it,  we  find  it  sink  into  neglect  and  contempt,  to  he 
succeeded  by  some  other  colour.    Those  colours  which  association  has 
taught  us  to  admire  in  one  thing,  are,  from  the  same  cause,  hideous  to 
us  in  another.    Rose  colour,  which  is  so  beautiful  in  the  flower,  or  in  a 
damask  curtain,  would  be  horrible  in  the  grass  of  the  field,  or  in  a 
table,  or  a  door,  or  a  window.    Suppose  the  army  and  navy  dressed  in 
black,  and  the  church  and  bar  in  scarlet,  how  ludicrous  would  be  the 
effect  of  this  violation  of  association.    Nay,  it  is  so  difficult  to  reconcile 
us  to  any  change,  however  small,  that  I  must  confess  the  red  collar 
recently  applied  to  the  old  true  blue  dress  coat  of  our  navy  captains, 
though  understood  to  be  only  a  restoration  from  more  ancient  times, 
is  to  me  a  disagreeable  innovation,  as  breaking  in  upon  my  associations 
with  the  simplicity  of  those  distinguished  uniforms  in  which  our  brave 
countrymen  achieved  the  victories  of  the  Nile  and  Trafalgar.  Select 
all  those  colours  which  might  be  considered  in  themselves  to  be  most 
beautiful  when  seen  on  the  painter's  pallet,  and  paint  with  them  the 
rocks,  the  trees,  or  the  animals  of  nature,  how  outrageously  offensive 
would  be  the  attempt !    Mr.  Alison  tells  us  the  interesting  fact,  that 
Dr.  Blacklock  the  poet,  though  blind  from  infancy,  learned  the  distin- 
guishing colours  of  objects  from  books  of  poetry  read  to  him,  and  that 
he  thus  acquired  the  same  associations  with  the  words  expressive  of 
them,  as  those  wrho  see  have  done  with  the  colours  themselves,  so  that 
by  these  means  he  has  composed  poems  from  which  no  reader  could 
possibly  gather  that  he  was  blind.    This  is  a  strong  confirmation  of  the 
opinion,  that  the  beauty  of  such  qualities  arises  from  the  associations  we 
connect  with  them,  and  not  from  any  original  or  independent  beauty  in 
the  colours  themselves. 

Form  is  that  quality  of  matter  which,  of  all  others,  produces  the  most 
general  and  natural  emotions  of  sublimity  and  beauty.  The  sublimity 
and  beauty  of  forms  arise  altogether  from  the  associations  we  connect 
with  them,  or  the  qualities  of  which  they  are  expressive  to  us — the 
expressions  of  such  qualities  as  arise  from  the  nature  of  the  objects  dis- 
tinguished by  such  forms,  and  the  expressions  of  such  qualities  as  arise 
from  their  being  the  subject  or  the  production  of  art.  The  first  is  their 
natural  beauty,  the  second  their  relative  beauty.  Besides  these,  there 
is  another  source  of  expression  in  such  qualities  from  accidental  associa- 
tion, which  may  be  termed  accidental  beauty. 

Sublimity  of  form  arises  from  the  nature  of  the  objects  distinguished 
by  that  form,  and  from  the  quantity  or  magnitude  of  the  form  itself. 
Forms  disnguishing  objects  associated  with  ideas  of  danger  or  of  power, 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


31 


are  sublime — such  as  cannons,  mortars,  military  ensigns,  armour,  arms, 
&c. — forms  distinguishing  bodies  of  great  duration,  and  consequently 
expressing  power  or  strength.  Hence  forms  of  trees  are  sublime  exact- 
ly in  proportion  to  their  expression  of  this  quality ;  and  rocks,  appearing 
coeval  with  creation,  and  which  have  outlived  all  the  convulsions  of 
nature,  are  sublime.  So,  architecture  is  the  sublimest  of  arts  ;  and  the 
Gothic  castle  is  especially  sublime,  from  its  association  with  the  many 
battle  tides  which  have  raged  up  ineffectually  against  its  defences.  The 
forms  of  the  throne,  the  sceptre,  the  diadem,  the  triumphal  car,  and  the 
triumphal  arch,  are  sublime,  from  association  with  ideas  of  power  and 
magnificence.  Forms  connected  with  ideas  of  awe  or  solemnity  are 
sublime,  such  as  the  forms  of  temples ;  and  what,  for  example,  can  be 
more  sublime  than  the  Peestan  temples,  the  very  origin  of  which  can  be 
only  guessed  at,  and  which  have  outlived  even  the  dust  into  which  the 
city  that  once  surrounded  them  has  been  crumbled  by  time. 

"  They  stand,  between  the  mountains  and  the  sea, 
Awful  memorials,  but  of  whom  we  know  not. 
The  seaman  passing,  gazes  from  the  deck — 
The  buffalo-driver,  in  his  shaggy  cloak, 
Points  to  the  work  of  magic,  and  moves  on. 
Time  was  they  stood  along  the  crowded  street, 
Temples  of  gods !  And  on  their  ample  steps 
What  various  habits,  various  tongues  beset 
The  brazen  gates  for  prayer  and  sacrifice !  " 

The  thunderbolt  of  Jupiter,  and  the  trident  of  Neptune,  were  sub- 
lime forms  to  the  ancients,  though  utterly  insignificant  in  themselves. 
The  pall,  the  hearse,  the  robes  of  mourning,  are  sublime  from  this  cause 
— and  even  the  white  plumes  that  nod  over  the  car  of  death,  are  power- 
fully sublime,  though  their  colour  is  in  general  so  cheerful  under  other 
circumstances.  The  sublimity  of  these  forms,  therefore,  clearly  arises 
from  the  qualities  which  they  express.  In  many  forms  we  find  their 
magnitude  bestowing  sublimity,  for  with  magnitude  we  have  many  dis- 
tinct and  powerful  associations.  In  animal  forms,  it  is  associated  with 
power  and  strength — for  animals  of  great  size  that  are  feeble  and  harm- 
less are  contemptible,  even  in  the  eyes  of  children.  Magnitude  of  height 
is  expressive  of  elevation  of  soul  or  magnanimity.  Magnitude  in  depth 
is  expressive  of  danger  or  terror,  so  that  in  all  countries  hell  is  considered 
to  be  an  unfathomable  abyss.  Magnitude  in  breadth  is  expressive  of 
stability,  duration,  and  superiority  to  destruction  ;  hence  towers,  forts, 
and  castles  are  sublime,  and  of  all  other  works  of  art,  the  Pyramids  are 
most  sublime,  not  only  because  of  their  magnitude,  and  that  their  form 


32 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


is  of  so  enduring  a  nature,  but  also  from  their  mysterious  origin,  and  the 
immense  duration  of  their  existence.  It  is  from  such  associations  alone, 
and  from  no  original  fitness  in  the  quality  itself,  that  magnitude  is  sub- 
lime ;  for  there  is  no  determinate  degree  of  magnitude  that  constitutes 
sublimity,  and  the  same  visible  magnitude  which  is  sublime  in  one  sub- 
ject, is  often  very  far  from  being  sublime  in  another. 

Form  is  matter  bounded  by  lines,  which  may  be  either  angular  or 
curved.    Most  bodies  in  nature  possessing  hardness,  strength,  or  dura- 
bility, are  distinguished  by  angular  forms,  such  as  rocks,  stones,  metals, 
strong  and  durable  plants,  &c.    Those  possessing  weakness,  fragility,  or 
delicacy,  have  winding  or  curvilinear  forms,  such  as  the  feeble  and 
more  delicate  race  of  plants.    The  same  holds  in  the  animal  kingdom. 
The  infancy  of  plants  and  animals  is  generally  distinguished  by  winding 
or  serpentine  forms,  and  thence  arise  the  associations  expressive  of  in- 
fancy, tenderness,  and  delicacy,  with  curvilinear  forms — and  of  matu- 
rity, strength,  and  vigour,  with  those  which  are  more  angular.  Besides 
this,  our  sense  of  touch  early  informs  us  that  angular  forms  are  expres- 
sive of  roughness,  sharpness,  harshness — and  winding  forms,  of  softness, 
smoothness,  delicacy,  and  fineness.    Hence  associations  with  these  qua- 
lities are  easily  caught  by  the  eye  from  the  forms  of  the  bodies  before 
us,  and  the  epithets  bold,  harsh,  gentle,  delicate,  are  universally  applied 
to  forms  in  all  languages.    (<  Among  these  qualities,"  says  Mr.  Alison, 
"  those  of  gentleness,  fineness,  or  delicacy,  are  the  most  remarkable,  and 
the  most  generally  expressed  in  common  language.    In  describing  the 
beautiful  forms  of  ground,  we  speak  of  gentle  declivities,  and  gentle 
swells.    In  describing  the  beautiful  forms  of  water,  we  speak  of  a  mild 
current,  gentle  falls,  soft  windings,  a  tranquil  stream.    In  describing  the 
beautiful  forms  of  the  vegetable  kingdom,  we  use  a  similar  language. 
The  delicacy  of  flowers,  of  foliage,  of  the  young  shoots  of  trees  and 
shrubs,  are  expressions  every  where  to  be  heard,  and  which  every  where 
convey  the  belief  of  beauty  in  these  forms.    In  the  same  manner,  in 
those  ornamental  forms  which  are  the  production  of  art,  we  employ  the 
same  language  to  express  our  opinion  of  their  beauty.    The  delicacy  of 
a  wreath,  of  a  festoon,  of  drapery,  of  a  column,  or  of  a  vase,  are  terms 
universally  employed,  and  employed  to  signify  the  reason  of  our  admira- 
tion of  their  forms.    If  we  were  to  describe  the  most  beautiful  vase  in 
technical  terms,  and  according  to  the  distinguished  characteristics  of  its 
form,  no  one  but  an  artist  would  have  any  tolerable  conception  of  its 
beauty  ;  but  if  we  were  simply  to  describe  it  as  peculiarly  delicate  in  all 
its  parts,  we  should  probably  leave  with  every  one  the  impression  of  the 
beauty  of  its  form."    To  children,  every  form  of  things  which  they  love 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


33 


or  take  pleasure  in,  is  beautiful  ;  and  so  also  with  common  people.  If 
there  really  were  any  original  and  independent  beauty  in  form,  the  pre- 
ference of  this  form  would  be  early  and  distinctly  marked  in  the  language 
of  children,  and  in  the  opinions  of  mankind. 

In  the  greater  part  of  beautiful  forms,  whether  in  nature  or  art,  lines 
of  different  descriptions  unite.  The  greater  part  of  the  forms  of  nature 
and  art  possess  an  union  or  composition  of  uniformity  and  variety,  of 
similarity  and  dissimilarity  of  forms.  But  were  such  a  composition  in 
itself  beautiful,  it  would  necessarily  follow,  that,  in  every  case  where  it 
was  found,  beauty  would  be  the  result.  This  is  not  the  case,  however, 
as  will  be  seen  from  the  following  passage  from  Mr.  Alison's  work, 
which  I  extract  verbatim  at  the  greater  length,  because  it  bears  so  par- 
ticularly on  the  subject  of  the  present  work  : — "  Every  one  knows  that 
the  mere  union  of  similarity  and  dissimilarity  does  not  constitute  a  beau- 
tiful form.  In  the  forms  of  ground,  of  water,  of  vegetables,  of  orna- 
ments, &c,  it  is  difficult  to  find  any  instance  of  a  perfectly  simple  form, 
or  in  which  lines  of  different  descriptions  do  not  unite.  It  is  obvious, 
however,  that  such  objects  are  not  beautiful  in  so  great  a  proportion,  and 
that,  on  the  contrary,  in  all  of  them  there  are  cases  where  this  mixture 
is  mere  confusion,  and  in  no  respect  considered  as  beautiful.  If  we  en- 
quire farther,  what  is  the  circumstance  which  distinguishes  beautiful 
objects  of  these  kinds,  it  will  be  found,  I  believe,  that  it  is  some  deter- 
mined character  or  expression  which  they  have  to  us,  and  that  when  this 
expression  is  once  perceived  we  immediately  look  for  and  expect  some 
relation  among  the  different  parts  to  this  general  character.  It  is  almost 
impossible  for  instance,  to  find  any  form  of  ground  which  is  not  com- 
plex, or  in  which  different  forms  do  not  unite.  Amid  a  great  extent  of 
landscape,  however,  there  are  few  spots  in  which  we  are  sensible  of 
beauty  in  their  original  formation,  and  wherever  such  spots  occur,  they 
are  always  distinguished  by  some  prominent  character,  such  as  great- 
ness, wildness,  gaiety,  tranquillity,  or  melancholy.  As  soon  as  this 
impression  is  made,  as  soon  as  we  feel  the  expression  of  the  scene, 
we  immediately  become  sensible  that  the  different  forms  that  com- 
pose it  are  suited  to  this  character ;  we  perceive,  and  very  often  we 
imagine,  a  correspondence  among  these  parts,  and  we  say  accordingly 
that  there  is  a  relation  and  harmony  among  them,  and  that  nature 
has  been  kind  in  combining  different  circumstances  with  so  much  pro- 
priety for  the  production  of  one  effect.  We  amuse  ourselves  also 
in  imagining  improvements  to  the  scenes,  either  in  throwing  out  some 
circumstances  which  do  not  correspond,  or  in  introducing  new  ones,  by 
which  the  general  character  may  be  more  effectually  supported.  All 

c 


34 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


this  beauty  of  composition,  however,  would  have  been  unheeded,  if  the 
scene  itself  had  not  some  determinate  character;  and  all  that  we  intend 
by  these  imaginary  improvements,  either  in  the  preservation  of  greater 
uniformity,  or  in  the  introduction  of  greater  variety,  is  to  establish  a 
more  perfect  relation  among  the  different  parts  to  this  peculiar  character. 

"  In  the  laving  out  of  grounds,  in  the  same  manner,  every  one  knows, 
that  the  mere  composition  of  similar  and  dissimilar  forms,  does  not  con- 
stitute Beauty ;  that  some  character  is  necessary  to  which  we  may  refer 
the  relation  of  the  different  parts ;  and  that  where  no  such  character  can 
be  created,  the  composition  itself  is  only  confusion.    It  is  upon  these 
principles  accordingly,  that  we  uniformly  judge  of  the  beauty  of  such 
scenes.  If  there  is  no  character  discernible,  no  general  expression  which 
may  afford  our  imaginations  the  key  of  the  scene,  although  we  may  be 
pleased  with  its  neatness,  or  its  cultivation,  we  feel  no  beauty  whatever 
in  its  composition  ;  and  we  leave  it  with  no  other  impression  than  that 
of  regret,  that  so  much  labour  and  expense  should  be  thrown  away  upon 
so  confused  and  ungrateful  a  subject.    If,  on  the  other  hand,  the  scene 
is  expressive,  if  the  general  form  is  such  as  to  inspire  some  peculiar 
emotion  ;  and  the  different  circumstances  such  as  to  correspond  to  this 
effect,  or  to  increase  it,  we  immediately  conclude  that  the  composition  is 
good,  and  yield  ourselves  willingly  to  its  influence.  If,  lastly,  amid  such 
a  scene,  we  find  circumstances  introduced  which  have  no  relation  to  the 
general  character  or  expression  ;  if  forms  of  gaiety  and  gloom — greatness 
and  ornament — rudeness  and  tranquillity,  &c.  are  mingled  together  with- 
out any  attention  to  one  determinate  effect,  we  turn  with  indignation  from 
the  confusion,  and  conclude  that  the  composition  is  defective  in  its  first 
principles.    In  all  cases  of  this  kind  we  become  sensible  of  the  beauty 
of  composition  only  when  the  scene  has  some  general  character^  to  which 
the  different  forms  in  composition  can  refer  ;  and  we  determine  its  beauty 
by  the  effect  of  this  union  in  maintaining  or  promoting  this  general  ex- 
pression.   The  same  observation  may  be  extended  to  the  forms  of  wood 
and  water.  *  *  *  In  the  vegetable  world,  also,  if  the  mere  composition 
of  uniformity  and  variety  were  sufficient  to  constitute  beauty,  it  would 
be  almost  impossible  to  find  any  instance  where  vegetable  forms  should 
not  be  beautiful.    That  this  is  not  the  case  every  one  knows ;  and  the 
least  attention  to  the  language  of  mankind  will  show,  that,  wherever  such 
forms  are  beautiful,  they  are  felt  as  characteristic  or  expressive,  and  that 
the  beauty  of  the  composition  is  determined  by  the  same  principle  which 
regulates  our  opinions  with  regard  to  the  compositions  of  the  forms  of 
ground.    The  beautiful  forms  which  we  ourselves  remark  in  this  king- 
dom— the  forms  which  have  been  selected  by  sculptors  for  embellish- 
ment or  ornament — by  painters  for  the  effect  of  landscape — by  poets  for 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


35 


description  or  allusion — are  all  such  as  have  some  determinate  expression 
or  association ;  their  beauty  is  generally  expressed  by  epithets  significant 
of  this  character  ;  and  if  we  are  asked  the  reason  of  our  admiration,  we 
immediately  assign  this  expression  as  a  reason  satisfactory  to  ourselves 
for  the  beauty  we  discover  in  them.  As  soon  also  as  we  find  this  expression 
in  any  vegetable  form,  we  perceive,  or  we  demand,  a  relation  among  the 
different  parts  to  this  peculiar  character.  If  this  relation  is  maintained, 
we  feel  immediately  that  the  composition  of  the  form  is  good.  We 
show  it  as  a  beautiful  instance  of  the  operation  of  nature  ;  and  we  speak 
of  it  as  a  form  in  which  the  utmost  harmony  and  felicity  of  composition 
is  displayed.  If,  on  the  contrary,  the  different  parts  do  not  seem  ad- 
justed to  the  general  character, — if,  instead  of  an  agreement  among  those 
parts  in  the  maintaining  or  promoting  this  expression,  there  appears  only 
a  mixture  of  similar  and  dissimilar  parts,  without  any  correspondence  or 
alliance,  we  reject  it  as  a  confused  and  insignificant  form,  without  mean- 
ing or  beauty.  If,  in  the  same  manner,  the  general  form  has  no  expres- 
sion, we  pass  it  by  without  attention,  and  with  a  conviction,  that  where 
there  is  no  character  to  which  the  relation  of  the  different  parts  may  be 
referred,  there  can  be  no  propriety  or  beauty  in  its  composition.  In  the 
different  species  of  vegetables  which  possess  expression,  and  which  con- 
sequently admit  of  beauty  in  composition,  it  is  observable,  also,  that 
every  individual  does  not  possess  this  beauty,  and  it  is  the  same  prin- 
ciple which  determines  our  opinion  of  the  beauty  of  individuals,  that 
determines  our  opinion  of  the  beauty  of  different  species.  The  oak, 
the  myrtle,  the  weeping  willow,  the  vine,  the  ivy,  the  rose,  &c.  are 
beautiful  classes  of  plants  ;  but  every  oak  and  myrtle,  Sec.  does  not  con- 
stitute a  beautiful  form.  The  many  physical  causes  which  affect  their 
growth,  affect  also  their  expression  ;  and  it  is  only  when  they  possess  in 
purity  the  peculiar  character  of  the  class,  that  the  individuals  are  felt  as 
beautiful.  In  the  judgment,  accordingly,  that  we  form  of  this  beauty, 
we  are  uniformly  guided  by  the  circumstance  of  the  expression.  When, 
in  any  of  these  instances,  we  find  an  accumulation  of  forms,  different 
from  what  we  generally  meet  with,  we  feel  a  kind  of  disappointment, 
and  however  much  the  composition  may  exhibit  of  mere  uniform  and 
varied  parts,  we  pass  it  by  with  some  degree  of  indignation.  When  the 
discordant  parts  are  few,  we  lament  that  accident  should  have  introduced 
a  variety  which  is  so  prejudicial,  and  we  amuse  ourselves  with  fancy- 
ing how  beautiful  the  form  would  be,  if  these  parts  were  omitted. 
It  is  only  when  we  discover  a  general  correspondence  among  the  differ- 
ent parts  to  the  whole  of  the  character,  and  perceive  the  uniformity  of 
this  character  maintained  amidst  all  their  varieties,  that  we  are  fully  satis- 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


Red  with  the  beauty  of  form.  The  superiority  of  the  productions  of 
sculpture  and  painting  to  their  originals  in  nature,  altogether  consists  in 
the  power  which  artists  have  to  correct  their  accidental  defects,  in  keep- 
ing out  every  circumstance  which  can  interrupt  the  general  expression  of 
the  subject  or  the  form  ;  and  in  presenting,  pure  and  unmixed,  the 
character  which  we  have  associated  with  the  objects  in  real  nature.  *  *  *  * 
u  1  believe  it  will  be  found,  that  different  proportions  of  uniformity  and 
variety  are  required  in  forms  of  different  characters  ;  and  that  the  prin- 
ciple from  which  we  determine  the  beauty  of  such  proportion,  is  from  its 
correspondence  to  the  nature  of  the  peculiar  emotion  which  the  form  it- 
self is  fitted  to  excite.  Every  one  knows,  that  some  emotions  require  a 
greater  degree  of  uniformity,  and  others  a  greater  degree  of  variety  in 
their  objects  ;  and  perhaps,  in  general,  all  strong  or  powerful  emotions, 
and  all  emotions  which  border  upon  pain,  demand  uniformity  or  same- 
ness ;  and  all  weak  emotions,  and  all  emotions  which  belong  to  positive 
pleasure,  demand  variety  or  novelty  in  the  objects  of  them.  Upon  this 
constitution  of  our  nature  the  beauty  of  composition  seems  chiefly  to  de- 
pend ;  and  the  judgment  we  form  of  this  beauty  appears  in  all  cases  to 
be  determined  by  the  correspondence  of  the  different  parts  of  the  com- 
position in  preserving  or  promoting  the  peculiar  expression  by  which  the 
object  itself  is  distinguished.  In  the  forms  of  ground,  for  instance,  there 
is  very  obviously  no  certain  proportion  of  uniformity  and  variety  which 
is  permanently  beautiful.  The  same  degree  of  uniformity  which  is 
pleasing  in  a  scene  of  greatness  or  melancholy,  would  be  disagreeable  or 
dull  in  a  scene  of  gaiety  or  splendour.  The  same  degree  of  variety  that 
would  be  beautiful  in  these,  would  be  distressing  in  the  others.  By  what 
rule,  however,  do  we  determine  the  different  beauty  of  these  proportions  ? 
Not,  surely,  by  the  composition  itself,  else  one  determinate  composition 
would  be  permanently  beautiful ;  but  by  the  relation  of  this  composition 
to  the  expression  or  character  of  the  scene ;  by  its  according  with  the 
demand  and  expectation  of  our  minds  ;  and  by  its  being  suited  to  that 
particular  state  of  attention  or  of  fancy,  which  is  produced  by  the  emotion 
that  the  scene  inspires.  When  this  effect  is  accordingly  produced,  when 
the  proportion  either  of  uniformity  or  variety  corresponds  to  the  nature 
of  this  emotion,  we  conclude  that  the  composition  is  good.  When  this 
proportion  is  violated,  when  there  is  more  uniformity  of  expression 
than  we  choose  to  dwell  upon,  or  more  variety  than  we  can  follow  with- 
out distraction,  we  conclude  that  the  composition  is  defective,  and  speak 
of  it  as  either  dull  or  confused.  Whatever  may  be  the  number  of  dis- 
tinct characters  which  the  forms  of  ground  possess,  there  is  an  equal 
number  of  different  proportions  required  in  the  composition  of  them  ; 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


37 


and  so  strong  is  this  natural  determination  of  the  beauty  of  composition, 
that,  after  admiring  the  composition  of  one  scene,  we  very  often,  in  a  few 
minutes  afterwards,  find  equal  beauty  in  a  composition  of  a  totally  dif- 
ferent kind,  when  it  distinguishes  a  scene  of  an  opposite  character." 

In  following  up  this  part  of  his  subject,  Mr.  Alison  quotes  Mr.  Wheat- 
ley,  who,  when  treating  of  ground  in  his  work  upon  gardening,  says,  that, 
— "  The  style  of  every  part  must  be  accommodated  to  the  character  of 
the  whole;  for  every  piece  of  ground  is  distinguished  by  certain  pro- 
perties ;  it  is  either  tame  or  bold — gentle  or  rude — continued  or  broken  ; 
and  if  any  variety  inconsistent  with  these  properties  be  obtruded,  it  has 
no  other  effect  than  to  weaken  one  idea,  without  raising  another.    The  in- 
sipidity of  a  fiat,  is  not  taken  away  by  the  introduction  of  a  few  scattered 
hillocks;  a  continuation  of  uneven  ground  can  alone  give  the  idea  of 
inequality.    A  large  deep  abrupt  break  among  easy  swells  and  falls, 
seems  at  best  but  a  piece  left  unfinished,  and  which  ought  to  have  been 
softened  ;  it  is  not  more  natural  because  it  is  more  rude.    On  the  other 
hand,  a  small,  fine,  polished  form,  in  the  midst  of  rough  misshapen  ground, 
though  more  elegant  than  all  about  it,  is  generally  no  better  than  a 
patch,  itself  disgraced,  and  disfiguring  the  scene.    A  thousand  instances 
might  be  added,  to  show  that  the  prevailing  idea  ought  to  pervade 
every  part,  so  far  at  least  indispensably,  as  to  exclude  whatever  distracts 
it ;  and  as  much  farther  as  possible,  to  accommodate  the  character  of 
the  ground  to  the  character  of  the  scene  it  belongs  to."    The  same  prin  - 
ciple extends  to  the  proportion,  and  to  the  number  of  the  parts.   "  Ground 
is  seldom  beautiful  or  natural  without  variety,  or  even  without  contrast ; 
and  the  precautions  which  have  been  given,  extend  no  farther  than  to 
prevent  variety  from  degenerating  into  inconsistency,  and  contrast  into 
contradiction.    Within  the  extremes  nature  supplies  an  inexhaustible 
fund ;  and  variety  thus  limited,  so  far  from  destroying,  improves  the 
general  effect.    Each  distinguished  part  makes  a  separate  impression, 
and  all  bearing  the  same  stamp,  all  concurring  towards  the.  same  end, 
every  one  is  an  additional  support  to  the  prevailing  idea.    An  accurate 
observer  will  see  in  every  form  several  circumstances  by  which  it  is  dis- 
tinguished from  every  other.     If  the  scene  be  mild  and  quiet,  he  will 
place  together  those  that  do  not  differ  widely,  and  he  will  gradually 
depart  from  the  similitude.    In  ruder  scenes  the  succession  will  be  less 
regular,  and  the  transitions  more  sudden.    The  character  of  the  place 
in ust  determine  the  degree  of  difference  between  contiguous  forms. 
An  assemblage  of  the  most  elegant  forms,  in  the  happiest  situations,  is  to  a 
degree  indiscriminate,  if  they  have  not  been  selected  and  arranged  with 
a  design  to  produce  certain  expressions ;  an  heir  of  magnificence — or  of 


88 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OP  TASTE. 


simplicity — of  cheerfulness— of  tranquillity, — or  some  other  general  cha- 
racter ought  to  pervade  the  whole  ;  and  ohjccts  however  pleasing  in  them- 
selves, if  they  contradict  that  character,  should  therefore  be  excluded ; 
those  which  are  only  indifferent  must  sometimes  make  room  for  such 
as  are  more  significant ;  many  will  often  be  introduced  for  no  other 
merit  than  their  expression ;  and  some  which  are  in  general  rather 
disagreeable,  may  occasionally  be  recommended  by  it.  Barrenness  itself 
may  be  an  acceptable  circumstance  in  a  spot  dedicated  to  solitude 
and  melancholy."  The  great  secret  of  good  Landscape  Gardening, 
seems  thus  to  consist  in  the  accurate  preservation  of  the  character  of 
every  scene,  whether  that  character  be  originally  there,  or  created  in  it. 

The  same  observations  which  are  applicable  to  landscape  in  general, 
will  be  found  to  apply  to  the  different  classes  of  trees,  as  well  as  to  the 
individuals  of  the  several  species.  "  All  these  individuals,"  says  Mr. 
Alison,  "  are  not  beautiful,  and  wherever  they  appear  as  beautiful,  it 
is  when  their  forms  adhere  perfectly  to  their  character;  when  no 
greater  degree  either  of  uniformity  or  variety  is  assumed  than  suits  that 
peculiar  emotion,  which  their  expression  excites  in  our  minds.  An  oak 
which  wreaths  not  into  vigorous  or  fantastic  branches — a  yew  which 
grows  into  thin  or  varied  forms — a  plane  tree  or  a  horse-chestnut,  which 
assumes  not  a  deep  and  almost  solid  mass  of  foliage,  &c,  appear  to  us  as 
imperfect  and  deformed  productions.  They  seem  to  aim  at  an  expres- 
sion which  they  do  not  reach,  and  we  speak  of  them  accordingly,  as 
wanting  the  beauty,  because  they  want  the  character  of  their  class." 

There  is  no  one  determinate  proportion  of  uniformity  and  variety,  then, 
which  invariably  constitutes  beauty.  There  are,  in  fact,  as  many  varieties 
of  beautiful  compositions,  as  there  are  varieties  of  character,  and  the 
beauty  is  constituted  by  the  correspondence  of  the  composition  to  the 
character.  The  vase,  for  example,  may  be  either  magnificent,  elegant, 
simple,  gay,  or  melancholy.  In  all  these  cases  the  composition  is  differ- 
ent. A  greater  proportion  of  uniformity  distinguishes  it  when  destined 
to  the  expression  of  magnificence,  simplicity  or  melancholy;  and  a 
greater  proportion  of  variety,  when  the  expression  of  elegance  or  gaiety 
is  sought  for.  There  is  a  propriety  and  a  beauty  in  this  difference  of 
composition,  according  to  the  peculiar  character  which  the  form  is  des- 
tined to  have.  But  if  the  vase  on  a  tomb  has  all  the  varieties  of  the 
goblet,  or  the  latter  all  the  uniformity  of  the  funeral  urn,  the  composition 
is  unfitted  to  the  expression  which  the  object  is  intended  to  have.  In 
the  orders  of  architecture  the  Tuscan  is  distinguished  by  its  severity — 
the  Doric  by  its  massive  simplicity — the  Ionic  by  its  elegance — the  Corin- 
thian and  Composite  by  their  lightness,  gaiety,  and  richness.    To  these 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


3.0 


characters  their  several  ornaments  are  adapted  with  consummate  taste. 
"  Change  these  ornaments,"  says  Mr.  Alison,  "  give  to  the  Tuscan  the 
Corinthian  capital,  or  to  the  Corinthian  the  Tuscan,  and  every  person 
would  feel  not  only  disappointment  from  this  unexpected  composition, 
but  a  sentiment  also  of  impropriety  from  the  appropriation  of  a  grave  or 
sober  ornament  to  a  subject  of  splendour,  and  of  a  rich  and  gaudy  orna- 
ment to  a  subject  of  severity." 

Forms  have  a  relative  beauty  from  their  being  the  subjects  of  art,  or 
produced  by  wisdom  or  design  for  some  end.  Whatever  is  the  effect  of 
art,  naturally  leads  us  to  the  consideration  of  that  art  which  is  its  cause, 
and  of  that  end  or  purpose  for  which  it  was  produced.  The  discovery 
of  skill  or  wisdom  in  the  one,  or  of  usefulness  or  propriety  in  the  other, 
makes  us  conscious  of  a  very  pleasing  emotion,  and  the  forms  which 
experience  has  taught  us  are  associated  with  such  qualities,  become  natu- 
rally and  necessarily  expressive  of  them,  and  affect  us  with  the  emotions 
which  properly  belong  to  the  qualities  they  signify.  Design,  fitness,  and 
utility,  may  be  considered  as  the  three  great  causes  of  the  relative  beauty 
of  forms,  and  in  many  cases  this  beauty  arises  from  all  these  expressions 
together.  The  beauty  of  design  in  a  poem,  in  a  painting,  in  a  musical 
composition,  or  in  a  machine,  is  perpetually  sought  for,  and  admired 
when  found.  Design  is  inferred  from  fitness  or  utility ;  for  they  are  to 
us  signs  of  the  design  or  thought  which  produced  them.  Yet  we  often 
perceive  design  in  forms  both  in  art  and  nature,  where  we  can  discover 
no  fitness  or  utility,  and  in  such  cases,  we  must  look  for  that  material 
quality,  which  is  most  naturally  and  most  powerfully  expressive  to  us 
of  design,  that  is  uniformity  or  regularity.  This  view  seems  to  account 
for  the  circumstance,  of  the  universal  prevalence  of  uniformity  in  the 
earliest  periods  of  the  arts.  It  was  natural,  that  in  the  infancy  of  society 
when  art  was  first  cultivated,  and  the  attention  of  mankind  was  first 
directed  to  works  of  design,  that  such  forms  would  be  selected  for 
those  arts  which  were  intended  to  please,  as  were  capable  of  most  strongly 
expressing  the  design  or  skill  of  the  artist.  What  the  spectator  would 
then  most  admire,  in  the  arts  of  sculpture  and  painting,  where  they 
imitated  the  human  form,  would  be  the  invention  or  art  which  pro- 
duced the  resemblance  to  man,  whilst  the  study  of  the  artist  would 
naturally  be,  to  make  his  work  as  expressive  of  this  skill  as  possible. 
The  surest  mode  of  effecting  this  would  be  by  uniformity,  and  by  making 
use  of  an  attitude,  in  which  both  sides  of  the  body  were  perfectly  similar 
in  form,  position,  and  drapery.  The  Egyptian,  and  even  the  earlier 
period  of  the  Grecian  art  of  sculpture,  was  distinguished  by  the 
same  character,  all  the  parts  being  subjected  to  the  highest  degree  of 


10 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


finishing  and  polish.  The  history  of  painting,  too,  shows  that  the  first 
periods  of  this  art  were  distinguished  by  the  same  character.  Mr. 
Alison  says,  that  "  the  art  of  gardening  seems  to  have  been  governed, 
and  long  governed,  by  the  same  principle.  When  men  first  began  to 
consider  a  garden  as  a  subject  capable  of  beauty,  or  of  bestowing 
any  distinction  on  its  possessor,  it  was  natural  that  they  should  render 
its  form  as  different  as  possible  from  that  of  the  country  around  it ;  and 
to  mark  to  the  spectator  as  strongly  as  they  could,  both  the  design, 
and  the  labour  they  had  bestowed  upon  it.  Irregular  forms,  however 
convenient  or  agreeable,  might  still  be  the  production  of  nature.  But 
forms  perfectly  regular,  and  divisions  completely  uniform,  immediately 
excited  the  belief  of  design,  and  with  this  belief,  all  the  admiration 
which  follows  the  employment  of  skill,  or  even  of  expense.  That 
this  principle  would  naturally  lead  the  first  artists  in  gardening  to 
the  production  of  uniformity,  may  easily  be  conceived,  as  even  at 
present,  when  so  different  a  system  of  gardening  prevails,  the  com- 
mon people  universally  follow  the  first  system.  ******* 
As  gardens,  however,  are  both  a  costly  and  permanent  subject,  and 
are  consequently  less  liable  to  the  influence  of  fashion,  this  taste  would 
not  easily  be  altered,  and  the  principal  improvements  which  they  would 
receive,  would  consist  rather  in  the  greater  employment  of  uniformity 
and  expense,  than  in  the  introduction  of  any  new  design.  The  whole 
history  of  antiquity,  accordingly,  contains  not,  I  believe,  a  single  instance 
w  here  this  character  was  deviated  from  in  a  spot  considered  solely  as  a 
garden  ;  and  till  within  this  century,  and  in  this  country,  it  seems  not 
anywhere  to  have  been  imagined  that  a  garden  was  capable  of  any  other 
beauty  than  what  might  arise  from  utility,  and  from  the  display  of  art 
and  design.  It  deserves,  also,  farther  to  be  remarked,  that  the  addi- 
tional ornaments  of  gardening  have  in  every  country  partaken  of  the 
same  character,  and  have  been  directed  to  the  purpose  of  increasing  the 
appearance  and  the  beauty  of  design.  Hence  jets  d'eau,  artificial 
fountains,  regular  cascades,  trees  in  the  form  of  animals,  &c.,  have  in  all 
countries  been  the  principal  ornaments  of  gardening.  The  violation  of 
the  usual  appearances  of  nature  in  such  objects,  strongly  exhibited  the 
employment  of  art.  They  accorded  perfectly,  therefore,  with  the  charac- 
ter which  the  scene  was  intended  to  have ;  and  they  increased  its  beauty 
as  they  increased  the  effect  of  that  quality  upon  which  this  beauty  was 
founded." 

The  same  principle  very  probably  caused  the  invention  of  rhyme  and 
measure  in  poetry,  and  may  also  account  for  the  precedence  which  poetry 
has  so  long  enjoyed  over  prosaic  composition.    To  show  design  in  his 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


41 


laws,  even  the  lawgiver  was  compelled  to  promulgate  them  in  rhyme, 
as,  for  the  same  reason,  the  sage  used  it  for  the  promulgation  of  his 
aphorisms.  The  invention  of  writing,  which  in  itself  sufficiently  proved 
design,  produced  a  revolution  in  composition,  though  the  permanence  of 
poetical  models,  and  the  real  difficulty  of  the  art  of  poetry  itself,  still 
gives  to  it  a  very  high  value  in  this  respect.  But  when  painters  and 
sculptors  had  so  far  advanced  in  their  several  arts  as  to  render  pre- 
eminence in  either  impossible,  whilst  uniformity  was  adhered  to,  they 
began  to  deviate  from  it,  and  to  imitate  the  most  beautiful  attitudes  of 
the  human  form.  And  then  perceiving  the  influence  which  the  passions 
and  affections  had  upon  it,  they  sought  to  imitate  such  attitudes  and  ex- 
pressions as  were  the  signs  of  them ;  and  finding  the  forms  of  real  life 
frequently  deficient,  they  gradually  sought  for  and  found  out  ideal  beauty. 
Thus  was  uniformity  naturally  deserted,  and  the  variety  of  real  life  in- 
troduced, and  the  admiration  of  the  spectator  kept  pace  with  its  intro- 
duction, hecause,  besides  the  additional  pleasure  he  received  from  the 
expression  of  these  forms,  that  of  the  design,  and  skill,  and  dexterity  of 
the  artist,  was  greater  than  before.  This  would  naturally  take  place 
with  the  other  arts,  and  as  the  love  of  uniformity  distinguished  the 
earlier  periods  of  society,  so  that  of  variety  would  come  to  distinguish 
the  periods  of  cultivation  and  refinement.  We  may  therefore  assert,  in 
the  words  of  Mr.  Alison,  that  "  wherever  in  the  arts  of  any  country 
variety  is  found  to  predominate,  it  may  be  safely  inferred  that  they  have 
long  been  cultivated  in  that  country ;  as,  on  the  other  hand,  wherever 
the  love  of  uniformity  prevails,  it  may  with  equal  safety  be  inferred  that 
they  are  in  that  country  but  in  the  first  stage  of  their  improvement." 

Mr.  Alison's  views  of  the  causes  of  the  tardy  improvement  of  the  art 
of  gardening,  are  curious  and  ingenious  ;  I  therefore  give  them  in  his  own 
words  : — "  There  is  one  art,  however,  in  which  the  same  effect  seems 
to  have  arisen  from  very  different  causes.  The  variety  which  distin- 
guishes the  modern  art  of  gardening  in  this  island,  beautiful  as  it  un- 
doubtedly is,  appears  not  to  be  equally  natural  to  this  ait  as  it  has  been 
shown  to  be  to  others.  It  is  at  least  of  a  very  late  origin — it  is  to  be 
found  in  no  other  country — and  those  nations  of  antiquity  who  had  car- 
ried the  arts  of  taste  to  the  greatest  perfection  which  they  have  ever  yet 
attained,  while  they  had  arrived  at  beauty  in  every  other  species  of 
form,  seem  never  to  have  imagined  that  the  principle  of  variety  was  ap- 
plicable to  gardening,  or  to  have  deviated  in  any  respect  from  the  regu- 
larity or  uniformity  of  their  ancestors.  Nor  does  it  indeed  seem  to  be 
cither  a  very  natural  or  a  very  obvious  invention.  A  garden  is  a  spot 
surrounding  or  contiguous  to  a  house,  and  cultivated  for  the  convenience 


ON  THK  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


or  pleasure  of  the  family.  When  men  first  began  to  ornament  such  a 
spot,  it  was  natural  that  they  should  do  with  it  as  they  did  with  the  house 
to  which  it  was  subordinate,  viz.,  by  giving  it  every  possible  appearance 
of  uniformity,  to  show  that  they  had  bestowed  labour  and  expense  on 
the  improvement  of  it.  In  the  countries  that  were  most  proper  for 
gardening!  in  those  distinguished  by  a  fine  climate  and  beautiful  scenery, 
this  labour  and  expense  could  in  fact  be  expressed  in  no  other  way  than 
by  the  production  of  such  uniformity.  To  imitate  the  beauty  of  nature 
in  the  small  scale  of  a  garden,  would  have  been  ridiculous  in  a  country 
where  this  beauty  was  to  be  found  upon  the  great  scale  of  nature ;  and 
for  what  purpose  should  they  bestow  labour  or  expense,  for  which  every 
man  expects  credit,  in  creating  a  scene  which,  as  it  could  be  little  supe- 
rior to  the  general  scenery  around  them,  could  consequently  but  partially 
communicate  to  the  spectator  the  belief  of  this  labour  or  this  expense 
having  been  bestowed  ?  The  beauty  of  landscape,  nature  has  sufficiently 
provided.  The  beauty,  therefore,  that  was  left  for  man  to  create,  was 
the  beauty  of  convenience  or  magnificence,  both  of  them  dependent  on 
the  employment  of  art  and  expense,  and  both  of  them  best  expressed  by 
such  forms  as  immediately  signified  the  employment  of  such  means.  In 
such  a  situation,  therefore,  it  does  not  seem  natural  that  men  should 
think  of  proceeding  in  this  art  beyond  the  first  and  earliest  forms  which 
it  had  acquired,  or  that  any  farther  improvement  should  be  attempted  in 
it,  than  merely  in  the  extension  of  the  scale  of  this  design."  Mr.  Alison 
then  goes  on  to  tell  us,  that  in  this  view  it  is  probable  that  the  modern 
taste  in  gardening,  or  the  art  of  creating  landscape,  may  owe  its  origin 
to  two  circumstances,  which  may  at  first  appear  paradoxical,  viz.  to  the 
accidental  circumstance  of  our  taste  in  natural  beauty  being  founded 
upon  foreign  models,  from  early  association  with  the  Greek  and  Roman 
compositions,  and  from  the  effects  of  the  influence  of  the  great  Italian 
masters ;  and,  secondly,  to  the  difference  or  inferiority  of  the  scenery  of 
our  own  country  to  that  which  we  were  thus  accustomed  to  admire.  He 
then  proceeds  to  say,  that  "  it  was  very  natural  for  the  inhabitants  of  a 
country  of  which  the  scenery,  however  beautiful  in  itself,  was  yet,  in 
many  respects,  very  different  from  that  which  they  were  accustomed  to 
consider  as  solely  or  supremely  beautiful — to  attempt  to  imitate  what 
they  did  not  possess — to  impart,  as  it  were,  the  beauties  which  were  not 
of  their  own  growth  ;  and,  in  fact,  to  create  that  scenery  which  nature 
and  fortune  had  denied  them.  Such  improvements,  however,  as  ex- 
tremely expensive,  could  not  be  at  first  on  a  very  large  scale  ;  they 
would,  for  various  reasons,  occupy  only  that  spot  of  ground  which  sur- 
rounded the  house,  and  as  they  thus  supplanted  what  had  formerly  been 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


43 


the  garden,  they  came  very  naturally  to  be  considered  only  as  another 
species  of  gardening*  A  scene  of  so  peculiar  a  kind  could  not  well  unite 
with  the  country  around.  It  would  gradually,  therefore,  extend  so  as 
to  embrace  all  the  ground  that  was  within  view,  or  in  the  possession  of 
the  improver.  From  the  garden,  therefore,  it  naturally  extended  to  the 
park,  which  therefore  also  became  the  subject  of  this  new  improvement. 
*  *  *  *  The  first  attempts  of  this  kind  in  England,  were  very  far 
from  being  an  imitation  of  the  general  scenery  of  nature.  It  was  solely 
the  imitation  of  Italian  scenery — statues,  temples,  urns,  ruins,  colonnades, 
&c,  were  the  first  ornaments  of  all  such  scenes.  Whatever  distinguished 
the  real  scenes  of  nature  in  Italy,  was  here  employed  in  artificial 
scenery  with  the  most  thoughtless  profusion  ;  and  the  object  of  the  art 
in  general,  was  the  creation,  not  of  natural,  but  of  Italian  landscape.  It 
was  but  a  short  step,  however,  from  this  state  of  the  art  to  the  pursuit 
of  general  beauty.  The  great  step  had  already  been  made  in  the  de- 
struction of  the  regular  forms,  which  constituted  the  former  system  of 
gardening,  and  in  the  imitation  of  nature,  which,  though  foreign  and  very 
different  from  the  appearance  or  character  of  nature  in  our  own  countrv, 
was  yet  still  the  imitation  of  nature.  The  profusion  with  which  temples, 
ruins,  statues,  and  all  the  other  adventitious  articles  of  Italian  scenery 
were  lavished,  became  soon  ridiculous.  The  destruction  of  these,  it 
was  found,  did  not  destroy  the  beauty  of  landscape.  The  power  of 
simple  nature  was  felt  and  acknowledged ;  and  the  removal  of  the  articles 
of  acquired  expression,  led  men  only  more  strongly  to  attend  to  the 
natural  expression  of  scenery,  and  to  study  the  means  by  which  it  might 
be  maintained  or  improved.  The  publication  also  at  this  time  of  The 
Seasons  of  Thomson,  in  the  opinion  of  Dr.  Warton,  a  very  competent 
judge,  contributed  in  no  small  degree  both  to  influence  and  direct  the 
taste  of  men  in  this  art.  The  peculiar  merit  of  the  work  itself,  the  sin- 
gular felicity  of  its  descriptions,  and  above  all,  the  fine  enthusiasm  which 
it  displays,  and  which  it  is  so  fitted  to  excite  with  regard  to  the  works 
of  nature,  were  most  singularly  adapted  to  promote  the  growth  of  an 
infant  art,  which  had  for  its  object  the  production  of  natural  beauty  ;  and 
by  diffusing  everywhere  both  the  admiration  of  nature,  and  the  know- 
ledge of  its  expression,  prepared,  in  a  peculiar  degree,  the  minds  of  men 
in  general,  both  to  feel  the  effects  and  to  judge  of  the  fidelity  of  those 
scenes  in  which  it  was  imitated.  By  these  means  the  art  of  gardening 
has  gradually  ascended  from  the  pursuit  of  general  beauty — to  realize 
whatever  the  fancy  of  the  painter  has  imagined,  and  to  create  a  scenery 
more  pure,  more  harmonious,  and  more  expressive,  than  any  that  is  to 
be  found  in  nature  itself." 


1 1 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE, 


As  uniformity  was  the  distinguishing  form  of  beauty  in  the  first  periods 
of  the  various  arts,  variety  is  the  distinguishing  form  in  their  later  pe- 
riods. Uniformity  and  variety,  then,  in  conjunction,  are  beautiful  when 
correspondent  to  the  character  or  expression  of  the  subject;  and  again, 
when  they  are  expressive  of  the  skill  or  taste  of  the  artist.  It  is  in  the 
power  of  the  artist  either  to  sacrifice  the  beauty  of  design  to  that  of  cha- 
racter or  expression,  or  to  sacrifice  the  beauty  of  character  to  that  of 
design.  The  beauty  of  design  produces  less  affecting  emotions  than  the 
beauty  of  expression  or  character.  It  is  fully  felt  only  by  proficients  in 
the  art,  and  whilst  its  duration  depends  upon  the  period  of  the  art,  the 
permanence  of  the  beauty  of  expression  and  character  rests  upon  certain 
invariable  and  indestructible  principles  of  our  nature.  The  expression 
of  design,  therefore,  in  the  arts,  should  always  be  subordinate  or  subject 
to  the  expression  of  character. 

Fitness,  or  the  proper  adaptation  of  means  to  an  end,  is  the  great 
source  of  the  relative  beauty  of  forms.  The  greater  part  of  the  emotion 
of  beauty  which  we  feel  in  regarding  furniture,  machines,  and  instru- 
ments, has  its  origin  in  this  cause.  Even  the  most  common  and  disre- 
garded articles  of  convenience  are  felt  as  beautiful,  when  we  forget  their 
familiarity,  and  consider  them  only  in  relation  to  the  purposes  they  serve. 
A  physician  even  tells  us  of  a  beautiful  theory  of  dropsies  or  fevers — a 
surgeon  of  a  beautiful  instrument  for  operations — an  anatomist  of  a  beau- 
tiful subject  or  preparation  ; — instances  which  show  that  even  objects 
which  arc  disgusting  in  themselves,  become  beautiful  when  regarded  only 
in  the  light  of  their  usefulness  or  fitness.  The  beauty  of  proportion  is 
also  to  be  ascribed  to  this  cause,  that  is,  from  certain  proportions  being 
expressive  of  the  fitness  of  the  parts  to  the  end  designed.  The  want  of 
this  gives  us  that  dissatisfaction  which  we  feel  when  means  appear  to  be 
unfitted  to  their  end.  "In  all  the  orders  of  architecture,"  to  use  Mr. 
Alison's  words,  "  the  fitness  of  the  parts  to  the  support  of  the  particu- 
lar weight  in  the  entablature,  is  apparent  to  every  one,  and  constitutes 
an  undoubted  part  of  the  pleasure  we  receive  from  them.  In  the 
Tuscan,  where  the  entablature  is  heavier  than  the  rest,  the  column 
and  base  are  proportionably  stronger.  In  the  Corinthian,  where  the 
entablature  is  lightest,  the  column  and  base  are  proportionably  slighter. 
In  the  Doric  and  Ionic,  which  are  between  these  extremes,  the  forms 
of  the  column  and  base,  are,  in  the  same  manner,  proportioned  to 
the  reciprocal  weights  of  their  entablatures — being  neither  so  strong 
as  the  one  nor  so  slight  as  the  other."  To  this  we  may  add,  that  we 
have  pleasure  in  looking  at  a  justly  proportioned  peristyle  of  Doric,  or 
other  columns,  very  much  because  experience  has  taught  us  that  such  a 


OX  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


45 


quantity  of  such  material,  in  such  forms,  is  amply  sufficient  to  give  secu- 
rity to  the  superstructure.  But  let  the  same  actual  security  be  given  by 
means  of  thin  iron  pillars,  and  although  reason  may  convince  us  that  it 
really  is  sufficient,  our  eyes  have  been  so  long  accustomed  to  such  pro- 
portions as  ore  required  for  the  weaker  materials  of  stone  or  marble, 
that  any  thing  thinner  appears  deficient  and  disproportionate,  and  so 
offends  the  eye.  A  much  longer  experience  of  iron-supports,  and  a 
much  greater  familiarity  with  them  will  be  required,  before  the  eye  be 
reconciled  to  the  thinness  of  their  proportions,  and  when  the  time  does 
arrive  when  it  shall  be  so,  proportions  in  general  will  become  variable 
in  the  estimation  of  different  people.  Utility,  when  evidently  expressed, 
is  sufficient  to  give  beauty  to  forms  of  the  most  different  and  even  oppo- 
site kinds. 

Forms  have  what  may  be  termed  their  accidental  beauty  from  asso- 
ciations not  common  to  all,  but  peculiar  to  the  individual.  They  take 
their  rise  from  education — from  peculiar  habits  of  thought — from  situa- 
tion— from  profession  ;  and  the  beauty  they  produce  is  felt  only  by  those 
whom  similar  causes  have  led  to  the  formation  of  similar  associations. 

Motion  is  in  many  cases  productive  of  emotions  of  sublimity  and 
beauty.  The  associations  connected  with  it  arise  either  from  the  nature 
of  motion  itself,  or  from  the  nature  of  the  bodies  moved,  I  a^ree  with 
Mr.  Alison,  that  motion  which  is  sublime,  is  that  which  is  expressive  to 
us  of  the  exertion  of  power  ;  but  I  cannot  so  readily  concur  with  him  in 
the  proposition — "  that  there  is  no  instance  where  motion,  which  is  the 
apparent  effect  of  force,  is  beautiful  or  sublime,"  for  I  apprehend  that 
the  flight  of  an  arrow  is  beautiful,  and  that  of  a  cannonball  or  of  a 
blazing  bombshell  sublime.  Rapid  motion  is  sublime — slow  motion  in 
small  bodies  beautiful,  though  in  great  bodies  it  is  sublime,  as  in  the 
movement  of  a  first-rate  man-of-war — the  ascent  of  a  great  balloon  — 
the  slow  march  of  an  immense  embattled  army — or  the  motion  of  stu- 
pendous clouds,  to  which  I  may  add  the  slow,  gradual,  but  terrific  ad- 
vance of  a  stream  of  lava  from  a  volcano — or  the  tardy  yet  certain 
descent  of  the  side  of  a  Swiss  mountain  on  the  cultivated  and  thicklv 
peopled  valley  below. 

Mr.  Alison  devotes  a  large  portion  of  the  latter  part  of  his  work  to  a 
consideration  of  the  origin  of  the  beauty  or  sublimity  to  be  perceived  in 
the  countenance  and  form  of  man,  as  well  as  in  his  attitudes  and  ges- 
tures, all  of  which  he  treats  with  the  same  perspicuity  of  argument,  and 
luxuriance  of  felicitous  illustration,  as  the  examples  I  have  given  so 
abundantly  prove  that  his  essays  are  replete  with.  But  on  this  part  of 
the  subject  I  shall  content  myself  with  stating,  that  he  proves  very  satis- 


4(i 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


factorilVj  that  it  is  in  perfect  harmony  with  the  general  theory  of  asso- 
ciation, and  that  the  hcauty  or  sublimity  of  the  human  countenance  or 
form  does  not  arise  from  any  original  or  essential  beauty  in  either — that 
there  is  a  negative  species  of  beauty  necessary  to  every  beautiful  form  or 
face,  but  not  constituting  it,  which  arises  from  the  expression  of  physical 
fitness  or  propriety — that  the  real  and  positive  beauty  of  the  form  or  face 
arises  from  its  expression  of  some  amiable  or  interesting  character  of 
mind,  and  that  the  degree  of  this  beauty  is  proportionate  to  the  degree 
in  which  this  character  is  interesting  or  affecting  to  us ; — and,  finally, 
that  the  beauty  of  composition  in  the  human  face  and  form  arises,  as  in 
all  other  cases,  from  the  unity  of  expression,  and  that  the  law  by  which 
we  determine  the  beauty  of  their  several  members,  is  that  of  their  cor- 
respondence to  the  peculiar  nature  of  the  characteristic  expression.  I 
dismiss  this  part  of  the  subject  so  shortly,  from  no  want  of  a  due  notion 
of  its  great  importance  to  the  general  question,  but  because  it  does  not 
bear  so  directly  on  the  immediate  object  of  this  work.  As  it  regards 
the  doctrine  of  association,  I  am  disposed  to  consider  it  so  very  essen- 
tial, that  I  believe  that  those  emotions  of  beauty  or  sublimity  which  are 
excited  in  us  by  the  other  objects  of  the  material  world,  inanimate  as 
well  as  animate,  are  invariably  produced  by  associations  which  all,  in 
some  way,  originate  in  our  early  formed  mental  impressions  of  the 
varieties  of  human  character,  passions,  and  emotions. 

Mr.  Alison  sums  up  his  work  by  stating,  that  u  the  illustrations  he  has 
offered  in  the  course  of  his  essay  upon  the  origin  of  the  sublimity  and 
beauty  of  some  of  the  principal  qualities  of  matter,  seem  to  afford  evi- 
dence for  the  following  conclusions  : — I.  That  each  of  these  qualities  is 
either  from  nature,  from  experience,  or  from  accident,  the  sign  of  some 
quality  capable  of  producing  emotion,  or  the  exercise  of  some  moral 
affection  ; — and,  II.  That  when  these  associations  are  dissolved,  or,  in 
other  words,  when  the  material  qualities  cease  to  be  significant  of  the 
associated  qualities,  they  cease  also  to  produce  the  emotions  either  of 
sublimity  or  beauty.  If  these  conclusions  are  admitted,  it  appears  neces- 
sarily to  follow,  that  the  beauty  and  sublimity  of  such  objects  is  to  be 
ascribed,  not  to  the  material  qualities  themselves,  but  to  the  qualities  they 
signify ;  and,  of  consequence,  that  the  qualities  of  matter  are  not  to  be 
considered  as  sublime  or  beautiful  in  themselves,  but  as  being  the  signs 
or  expressions  of  such  qualities  as,  by  the  constitution  of  our  nature,  are 
fitted  to  produce  pleasing  or  interesting  emotion."  In  short,  "  that  the 
beauty  and  sublimity  which  is  felt  in  the  various  appearances  of  matter, 
are  finally  to  be  ascribed  to  their  expression  of  mind,  or  to  their  being 
either  directly  or  indirectly  the  signs  of  those  qualities  of  mind,  which 


ON  THE  ORIGIiN  OF  TASTE.  47 

are  fitted  by  the  constitution  of  our  nature,  to  affect  us  with  pleasing  or 
interesting  emotion." 

The  view  which  Mr.  Alison  thus  takes  of  the  manner  in  which  we 
are  affected  by  the  objects  of  the  material  world,  will  at  once  be  per- 
ceived to  be  that  which  is  most  consonant  to  the  goodness  and  wisdom 
of  the  beneficent  Creator  of  the  universe,  who  has  thereby  made  provision 
for  the  general  diffusion  of  human  happiness,  so  far  as  it  may  depend  on 
the  pleasures  of  taste.  Mr.  Alison  gives  a  beautiful  and  convincing  ex- 
position of  this  in  the  following  sentences. 

"  If  the  emotions  of  taste,  and  all  the  happiness  they  give,  are  pro- 
duced by  the  perpetual  expression  of  mind,  the  accommodation  of  this 
system  to  the  happiness  of  human  nature,  is  not  only  in  itself  simple, 
but  it  may  be  seen  in  the  simplest  instances.  Wherever  the  appearances 
of  the  material  world  are  expressive  to  us  of  qualities  we  love  or  admire  ; 
wherever,  from  our  education  or  connections,  or  habits,  or  our  pursuits, 
its  qualities  are  associated  in  our  minds  with  affecting  or  interesting 
emotions,  there  the  pleasures  of  beauty  or  sublimity  are  felt,  or  at  least 
are  capable  of  being  felt.    Our  minds  instead  of  being  governed  by  the 
character  of  external  objects,  are  enabled  to  bestow  upon  them  a  charac- 
ter which  does  not  belong  to  them  ;  and  even  with  the  rudest,  or  the 
commonest  appearances  of  nature,  to  connect  feelings  of  a  nobler  or  a 
more  interesting  kind,  than  any  that  the  mere  influences  of  matter  can 
ever  convey.    It  is  hence  that  the  inhabitant  of  savage  and  barbarous 
countries,  clings  to  the  rocks  and  the  deserts  in  which  he  was  nursed, 
so,  that  if  the  pursuit  of  fortune  forces  him  into  the  regions  of  fertility 
and  cultivation,  he  sees  in  them  no  memorials  of  early  love,  or  of  ancient 
independence  ;  and  that  he  hastens  to  return  to  his  rocks,  and  the 
deserts  which  spoke  to  his  infant  heart,  amidst  which  he  recognizes  his 
first  affections,  and  his  genuine  home.    It  is  hence  that  in  the  coun- 
tenance of  her  dying  infant,  the  eyes  of  the  mother  discover  beauties 
which  she  feels  not  in  those  who  require  not  her  care,  and  that  the 
bosom  of  the  husband  or  friend  glows  with  deeper  affection  when  he 
marks  the  advances  of  age  or  disease,  over  those  features  which  first 
awakened  the  emotions  of  love  or  of  friendship.    It  is  hence,  in  the 
same  manner,  that  the  eye  of  admiration  turns  involuntarily  from  the 
forms  of  those  who  possess  only  the  advantages  of  physical  beauty,  or 
the  beauty  of  fitness  or  proportion,  to  rest  upon  the  humble  or  less 
favoured  forms  which  are  expressive  of  genius,  of  knowledge,  or  of 
virtue  ;  and  that  in  the  public  assemblies  of  every  country,  the  justice 
of  national  taste  neglects  all  the  external  advantages  of  youth,  of  rank, 
or  of  grace,  to  bestow  the  warmth  of  its  enthusiasm  upon  the  mutilated 


48 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


form  of  the  warrior  who  has  extended  its  power,  or  the  grey  heirs  of  the 
statesman  who  lias  maintained  its  liberty.  ******** 

"  It  is  by  means  of  this  constitution  of  our  nature,  that  the  emotions  of 
taste  are  blended  with  moral  sentiments,  and  that  one  of  the  greatest 
pleasures  of  which  we  arc  susceptible,  is  made  finally  subservient  to 
moral  improvement.  If  the  beauty  of  the  material  world  were  altogether 
independent  of  expression  ;  if  any  original  law  had  imperiously  pre- 
scribed the  objects  in  which  the  eye  and  the  ear  could  alone  find  delight, 
the  pleasures  of  taste  must  have  been  independent  of  all  moral  emotion, 
and  the  qualities  of  beauty  and  sublimity  would  have  been  as  distinct 
from  moral  sensibility  as  those  of  number  or  of  figure.  The  scenery  of 
nature  would  have  produced  only  an  organic  pleasure,  which  would  have 
expired  with  the  moment  in  which  it  was  felt ;  and  the  compositions  of 
the  artist,  instead  of  awakening  all  the  enthusiasm  of  fancy  and  of  feeling, 
must  have  been  limited  to  excite  only  the  cold  approbation  of  faithful 
outline,  and  accurate  detail.  No  secret  analogies,  no  silent  expressions, 
would  then  have  connected  enjoyment  witb  improvement ;  and  in  con- 
tradiction to  every  other  appearance  of  human  nature,  an  important 
source  of  pleasure  would  have  been  bestowed  without  any  relation  to 
the  individual,  or  the  social  advantage  of  the  human  race.  In  the  system 
which  is  established,  on  the  contrary — in  that  system  which  makes  matter 
sublime  or  beautiful,  only  as  it  is  significant  of  mind — we  perceive  the 
lofty  end  which  is  pursued  ;  and  that  pleasure  is  here,  as  in  every  other 
case,  made  instrumental  to  the  moral  purposes  of  our  being.  While  the 
objects  of  the  material  world  are  made  to  attract  our  infant  eyes,  there 
are  latent  ties  by  which  they  reach  our  hearts  ;  and  wherever  they  afford 
us  delight,  they  are  always  the  signs  or  expressions  of  higher  qualities, 
by  which  our  moral  sensibilities  are  called  forth.  It  may  not  be  our 
fortune  perhaps  to  be  born  amid  its  nobler  scenes.  But  wander  where 
we  will,  trees  wave,  rivers  flow,  mountains  ascend,  clouds  darken,  or 
winds  animate  the  face  of  heaven  ;  and  over  the  whole  scenery  the  Sun 
sheds  the  cheerfulness  of  his  morning,  the  splendour  of  his  noonday,  or 
the  tenderness  of  his  evening  light.  There  is  not  one  of  these  features 
of  scenery  which  is  not  fitted  to  awaken  us  to  moral  emotion  ;  to  lead 
us,  when  once  the  key  of  our  imagination  is  struck,  to  trains  of  fas- 
cinating and  of  endless  imagery;  and  in  the  indulgence  of  these,  to 
make  our  bosoms  either  glow  with  conceptions  of  mental  excellence,  or 
melt  in  the  dreams  of  moral  good.  Even  upon  the  man  of  the  most 
uncultivated  taste  the  scenes  of  nature  have  some  inexplicab.e  charm. 
There  is  not  a  chord  perhaps  of  the  human  heart  which  may  not  be 
awakened  by  their  influence  ;  and  I  believe  there  is  no  man  of  genuine 


OX  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


49 


taste,,  who  has  not  often  felt,  in  the  lone  majesty  of  nature,  some  unseen 
spirit  to  dwell,  which,  in  his  happier  hours,  touched  as  if  with  magic 
hand,  all  the  springs  of  his  moral  sensibility,  and  rekindled  in  his  heart 
those  origina  conceptions  of  the  moral  or  intellectual  excellence  of  his 
nature,  which  it  is  the  melancholy  tendency  of  the  vulgar  pursuits  of  life 
to  diminish,  if  not  altogether  to  destroy.  ******** 

"  There  is  yet,  however,  a  greater  expression  which  the  appearances  of 
the  material  world  are  fitted  to  convey,  and  a  more  important  influence, 
which,  in  the  design  of  nature,  they  are  destined  to  produce  upon  us — 
their  influence  in  leading  us  to  religious  sentiment. — Had  organic  enjoy- 
ment been  the  only  object  of  our  formation,  it  would  have  been  sufficient 
to  have  established  senses  for  the  reception  of  these  enjoyments.  But 
if  the  promises  of  our  nature  are  greater ; — if  it  is  destined  to  a  nobler 
conclusion  ; — if  it  is  enabled  to  look  to  the  Author  of  Being  himself,  and 
to  feel  its  proud  relation  to  Him ;  then  nature,  in  all  its  aspects  around 
us,  ought  only  to  be  felt  as  signs  of  his  providence,  and  as  conducting 
us,  by  the  universal  language  of  these  signs,  to  the  throne  of  the  Deity." 

Having  now,  I  hope,  succeeded  in  giving  a  somewhat  satisfactory  digest 
of  the  arguments  and  examples  by  which  Mr.  Alison  supports  this  theory 
of  association,  together  with  a  very  liberal  production  of  quotation  from 
those  more  beautiful  or  striking  passages  in  his  work,  by  which,  in  his 
own  person  as  a  writer,  he  so  happily  illustrates  the  doctrines  which 
he  teaches  ;  it  may  not  be  out  of  place  to  remark,  that  the  acute  per- 
ceptive powers  of  the  poetical  mind  of  Burns,  were  immediatelv  unfolded 
for  the  reception  of  this  theory,  the  moment  it  was  presented  to  him. — 
Professor  Dugald  Stewart,  thus  notices  this  fact. — "  The  last  time  I  saw 
Burns  was  during  the  winter  1788-89,  or  1789-90,  when  he  passed  an 
evening  with  me  at  Drumsheugh,  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Edinburgh, 
where  I  was  then  living."  My  friend  Mr.  Alison  was  the  only  other 
person  in  company.  I  never  saw  him  more  agreeable  or  interesting. 
A  present  which  Mr.  Alison  sent  him  afterwards  of  his  Essays  on  Taste, 
drew  from  Burns  a  letter  of  acknowledgment,  which  I  remember  to 
have  read,  with  some  degree  of  surprise  at  the  distinct  conception  he 
appeared  from  it  to  have  formed  of  the  general  principles  of  the  doctrine 
of  association." — I  cannot  say  that  I  at  all  participate  in  the  surprise 
which  Professor  Stewart  here  expresses,  for  I  think  the  highly  imagina- 
tive mind  of  Burns,  was  of  all  others  the  most  likely  to  catch  immediate 


'  Then  in  the  neighbourhood  of  the  city,  hut  now  altogether  absorbed  within  it  by 
its  great  extension. 

D 


50 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OK  TASTE. 


illumination  from  the  first  flash  of  the  light  of  the  truth  of  this  theory. 
The  letter  is  as  follows. — 

"Ellisland,  near  Dumfries,  \Uh  February  1791. 

"Sir, — You  must,  by  this  time,  have  set  me  down  as  one  of  the  most 
ungrateful  of  men.  You  did  me  the  honour  to  present  me  with  a  book 
which  does  honour  to  science  and  the  intellectual  powers  of  man,  and 
I  have  not  even  so  much  as  acknowledged  the  receipt  of  it.  The 
fact  is,  you  yourself  are  to  blame  for  it.  Flattered  as  I  was  by  your 
telling  me  that  you  wished  to  have  my  opinion  of  the  work,  the 
old  spiritual  enemy  of  mankind,  who  knows  well  that  vanity  is  one 
of  the  sins  that  most  easily  beset  me,  put  it  into  my  head  to  ponder 
over  the  performance  with  the  look-out  of  a  critic  ;  and  to  draw  up, 
forsooth,  a  deep-learned  digest  of  strictures  on  a  composition  of  which, 
in  fact,  until  I  read  the  book,  I  did  not  even  know  the  first  principles. 
I  own,  Sir,  that,  at  first  glance,  several  of  your  propositions  startled  me 
as  paradoxical.  That  the  martial  clangour  of  a  trumpet  had  something  in 
it  vastly  more  grand,  heroic,  and  sublime,  than  the  twingle-twangle  of  a 
Jew's  harp  ;  that  the  delicate  flexure  of  a  rose-twig,  when  the  half-blown 
flower  is  heavy  with  the  tears  of  the  dawn,  was  infinitely  more  beautiful 
and  elegant  than  the  upright  stub  of  a  burdock  ;  and  that  from  something 
innate  and  independent  of  all  association  of  ideas  : — these  I  had  set  down 
as  irrefragable,  orthodox  truths,  until  perusing  your  book  shook  my  faith. 
In  short,  Sir,  except  Euclid's  Elements  of  Geometry — which  I  made  a 
shift  to  unravel  by  my  father's  fireside,  in  the  winter  evenings  of  the  first 
season  I  held  the  plough — I  never  read  a  book  which  gave  me  such  a 
quantum  of  information,  and  added  so  much  to  my  stock  of  ideas,  as 
your  *  Essays  on  the  Principles  of  Taste.'  One  thing  you  must  forgive 
my  mentioning  as  an  uncommon  merit  in  the  work, — I  mean  the  lan- 
guage. To  clothe  abstract  philosophy  in  elegance  of  style,  sounds  some- 
thing like  a  contradiction  in  terms  ;  but  you  have  convinced  me  that 
they  are  quite  compatible. — I  am,  Sir,  &c.  Robert  Burns." 

I  am  now  desirous  of  adding  to  the  other  authorities  I  have  adduced 
in  support  of  the  associative  theory  of  taste,  the  powerful  testimony  of 
Professor  Wilson,  whose  opinion,  whether  we  consider  it  as  coming 
from  him  as  a  poet  or  as  a  philosopher,  must,  on  such  a  subject  as  this,  be 
universally  regarded  as  of  the  greatest  weight,  and  in  the  highest  degree 
valuable.  I  quote  the  following  from  an  article  of  his  in  the  number  of 
Blackwood's  Magazine  for  January  1  839,  and  the  reader  will  find  from 
it  that  the  Professor,  whilst  he  coincides  with  Lord  Jeffrey  in  denying 
the  necessity  of  Mr.  Alison's  trains  of  thought,  fully  subscribes  to  the 
truth  of  the  doctrine  of  association. 


UN  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


51 


n  It  is  the  theory  of  Mr.  Alison,  tliat  all  beauty  and  sublimity  in  ex- 
ternal nature  are  but  the  reflections  of  mental  qualities,  and  that  the 
pleasures  of  the  imagination  consist  of  those  emotions  which  arise  in  us 
during  our  association  of  mental  qualities  with  lifeless  things.  This 
theory — so  beautifully  illustrated  by  Mr.  Alison — is  certainly  in  a  great 
measure  true ;  and  therefore  almost  every  word  we  use,  and  every  feel- 
ing which  we  express,  is  a  proof  of  the  discernment  by  the  mind  in  a 
state  of  imagination,  of  analogies  subsisting  between  the  objects  of  the 
external  world  and  the  attributes  of  our  moral  and  intellectual  being. 

"  We  said  that  Mr.  Alison's  theory  is  in  a  great  measure  true.  The 
principle  is  true  ;  but  we  suspect  that  there  is  something  fallacious  in 
its  application.  There  is  a  popular  opinion,  or  rather  an  unconsidered 
impression,  that  sights  and  sounds  are  beautiful  and  sublime  in  themselves, 
but  this  disappears  before  examination.  A  sound  is  or  is  not  sublime, 
as  it  is  or  is  not  apprehended  to  be  thunder.  That  is  association.  But 
thunder  itself  would  not  be  sublime,  if  there  were  no  more  than  the  in- 
tellectual knowledge  of  its  physical  cause, — if  there  were  not  ideas  of 
power,  wrath,  death,  included  in  it.  The  union  of  these  ideas  with 
thunder  is  association.  These  ideas,  by  association,  carry  their  own 
ideas  with  them.  All  fixed  conjunction,  therefore,  of  ideas  with  ideas, 
and  of  feelings  with  ideas,  is  the  work  of  association, — nor  is  it  possible 
to  dispute  it.  But  when  the  advocates  of  this  theory  assert,  that  trains  of 
thought,  or  distinct  personal  recollections,  are  absolutely  necessary  to  make 
up  the  emotion  ;  then  they  assert  what  appears  to  us  to  be  contradicted 
by  the  experience  of  every  man.  The  impression  is  collective  and  im- 
mediate. We  know  that  all  our  acquired  perceptions  are  at  first  gained 
by  long  processes  of  association — that  the  eye  does  not  of  itself  see  form 
or  figure.  When,  therefore,  we  see  a  rose  to  be  a  rose,  it  may  as  well 
be  said  that  we  do  so  by  a  process  of  association,  as  that  we  see  it  to  be 
beautiful  by  a  process  of  association.  In  both  cases  the  perception  of 
the  rose,  and  the  emotion  of  its  beauty  is  equally  instantaneous,  and  in- 
dependent of  any  process  of  association,  though  we  know  that  both  our 
perception  of  it  and  our  emotion,  could  only  have  been  formed  originally 
by  such  a  process.  As,  therefore,  we  cannot  be  said,  by  our  instructed 
senses,  to  perform  any  mental  operation  when  we  see  an  object  to  be 
round,  so  neither  can  we  be  said  to  perform  any,  when  we  feel  an  object 
to  be  beautiful.  Voluntary  associations,  may,  doubtless,  be  added  to 
our  unreasoned  and  unwilled  perception  of  beauty,  as  of  a  rose,  or  a 
human  countenance — and  these  trains  of  thought,  of  which  Mr.  Alison 
so  finely  speaks,  will  add  to  the  emotion.  But  the  emotion  arises  inde- 
pendently of  them.  We  admire  the  beauty  of  a  rose  just  as  thoughtlessly 


52 


ON  T1IK  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


as  we  see  it  to  have  a  Blender  stalk,  circular  flower,  and  serrated  leaves. 
While,  therefore,  we  admit  the  truth  of*  the  principle  of  Mr.  Alison's 
theory,  we  seek  to  limit  the  application  of  it." 

There  are  some  remarks  with  which  Lord  Jeffrey  terminates  his 
article  on  Beauty  in  the  Encyclopaedia  Britannica,  which  I  think  so 
highly  essential,  that  I  am  led  to  quote  them  at  length.  They  refer  to 
the  necessary  consequences  of  the  adoption  of  this  theory,  upon  other 
controversies  of  a  kindred  description. 

"  In  the  first  place,  then/'  says  his  Lordship,  "  we  conceive  that  it 
estahlishcs  the  substantial  identity  of  the  sublime,  the  beautiful,  and  the 
picturesque,  and,  consequently,  puts  an  end  to  all  controversy  that  is  not 
purelv  verbal  as  to  the  difference  of  those  several  qualities.  Every 
material  ohject  that  interests  without  actually  hurting  or  gratifying  our 
bodily  feelings,  must  do  so,  according  to  this  theory,  in  one  and  the  same 
manner — that  is,  by  suggesting  or  recalling  some  emotion  or  affection  of 
ourselves,  or  some  other  sentient  being,  and  presenting,  to  our  imagina- 
tion at  least,  some  natural  object  of  love,  pity,  admiration,  or  awe.  The 
interest  of  material  objects,  therefore,  is  always  the  same,  and  arises,  in 
every  case,  not  from  any  physical  qualities  they  may  possess,  but  from 
their  association  with  some  idea  of  emotion.  But,  though  material 
objects  have  but  one  means  of  exciting  emotion,  the  emotions  they  do 
excite  are  infinite.  They  are  mirrors  that  may  reflect  all  shades  and  all 
colours,  and,  in  point  of  fact,  do  seldom  reflect  the  same  hues  twice. 
No  two  interesting  objects,  perhaps,  whether  known  by  the  name  of 
beautiful,  sublime,  or  picturesque,  ever  produced  exactly  the  same  emo- 
tion in  the  beholder;  and  no  one  object,  it  is  most  probable,  ever  moved 
any  two  persons  to  the  very  same  conceptions.  As  they  may  be  asso- 
ciated with  all  the  feelings  and  affections  of  which  the  human  mind  is 
susceptible,  so  they  may  suggest  those  feelings  in  all  their  variety  ;  and,  in 
fact,  do  daily  excite  all  sorts  of  emotions,  running  through  every  gradation, 
from  extreme  gaiety  and  elevation,  to  the  borders  of  horror  and  disgust. 

<f  Now  it  is  certainly  true,  that  all  the  variety  of  emotions  raised  in  this 
way,  on  the  single  basis  of  association,  may  be  classed  in  a  rude  way 
under  the  denominations  of  sublime,  beautiful,  and  picturesque,  accord- 
ing as  they  partake  of  awe,  tenderness,  or  admiration  ;  and  we  have  no 
other  objection  to  this  nomenclature,  except  its  extreme  imperfection, 
and  the  delusions  to  which  we  know  it  has  given  occasion.  If  objects 
that  interest  by  their  association  with  ideas  of  power,  and  danger,  and 
terror,  are  to  be  distinguished  by  the  peculiar  name  of  sublime,  why 
should  there  not  be  a  separate  name  also  for  objects  that  interest  by 
associations  of  mirth  and  gaiety — another  for  those  that  please  by  sug- 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


53 


gestions  of  softness  and  melancholy — another  for  such  as  are  connected 
with  impressions  of  comfort  and  tranquillity — and  another  for  those  that 
are  related  to  pity,  and  admiration,  and  love,  and  regret,  and  all  the 
other  distinct  emotions  and  affections  of  our  nature  ?  These  are  not  in 
reality  less  distinguishable  from  each  other  than  from  the  emotions  of 
awe  and  veneration  that  confer  the  title  of  sublime  on  their  representa- 
tives ;  and  while  all  the  former  are  confounded  under  the  comprehen- 
sive appellation  of  beauty,  this  partial  attempt  at  distinction  is  only  apt 
to  mislead  us  into  an  erroneous  opinion  of  our  accuracy,  and  to  make  us 
believe  both  that  there  is  a  greater  conformity  among  the  things  that 
pass  under  the  same  name,  and  a  greater  difference  between  those  that 
pass  under  different  names,  than  is  really  the  case.  We  have  seen 
already  that  the  radical  error  of  almost  all  preceding  inquirers,  has  lain 
in  supposing  that  every  thing  that  passed  under  the  name  of  beautiful 
must  have  some  real  and  inherent  quality  in  common  with  every  thing 
else  that  obtained  that  name.  And  it  is  scarcely  necessary  for  us  to 
observe,  that  it  has  been  almost  as  general  an  opinion,  that  sublimity 
was  not  only  something  radically  different  from  beauty,  but  actually 
opposite  to  it ;  whereas  the  fact  is,  that  it  is  far  more  related  to  some 
sorts  of  beauty  than  many  sorts  of  beauty  are  to  each  other;  and  that 
both  are  founded  exactly  upon  the  same  principle  of  suggesting  some 
past  or  possible  emotion  of  some  sentient  being. 

"  Upon  this  important  point,  we  are  happy  to  find  our  opinions  con- 
firmed by  the  authority  of  Mr.  Stewart,  who,  in  his  Essay  on  the  Beau- 
tiful, has  observed,  not  only  that  there  appears  to  him  to  be  no  incon- 
sistency or  impropriety  in  such  expressions  as  the  sublime  beauties  of 
nature,  or  of  the  sacred  scriptures ;  but  has  added,  in  express  terms, 
that  "  to  oppose  the  beautiful  to  the  sublime,  or  to  the  picturesque, 
strikes  him  as  something  analogous  to  a  contrast  between  the  beautiful 
and  the  comic — the  beautiful  and  the  tragic — the  beautiful  and  the 
pathetic — or  the  beautiful  and  the  romantic. 

"  The  only  other  advantage  which  we  shall  specify  as  likely  to  result 
from  the  general  adoption  of  the  theory  we  have  been  endeavouring  to 
illustrate,  is,  that  it  seems  calculated  to  put  an  end  to  all  these  perplex- 
ing and  vexatious  questions  about  the  standard  of  taste,  which  have 
given  occasion  to  so  much  impertinent  and  so  much  elaborate  discussion. 
If  things  are  not  beautiful  in  themselves,  but  only  as  they  serve  to  sug- 
gest interesting  conceptions  to  the  mind,  then  every  thing  which  does,  in 
point  of  fact,  suggest  such  a  conception  to  any  individual,  is  beautiful  to 
that  individual ;  and  it  is  not  only  quite  true  that  there  is  no  room  for 
disputing  about  tastes,  but  that  all  tastes  are  equally  just  and  correct,  in 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE 


cu  far  as  each  in  lividual  speaks  only  of  his  own  emotions.  When  a 
man  calls  a  thing  beautiful,  however,  he  may  indeed  mean  to  make  two 
rery  different  -assertions; — he  may  mean  that  it  gives  him  pleasure  by- 
suggesting  to  him  some  interesting  emotion  ;  and,  in  this  sense,  there 
can  be  no  doubt  that,  if  he  merely  speak  truth,  the  thing  is  beautiful, 
and  that  it  pleases  him  precisely  in  the  same  way  that  all  other  things 
please  those  to  whom  they  appear  beautiful.  But  if  he  mean  further  to 
Bay,  that  the  thing  possesses  some  quality  which  should  make  it  appear 
beautiful  to  every  other  person,  and  that  it  is  owing  to  some  prejudice 
or  defect  in  them  if  it  appear  otherwise,  then  he  is  as  unreasonable  and 
absurd  as  he  would  think  those  who  should  attempt  to  convince  him 
that  he  felt  no  emotion  of  beauty. 

"  All  tastes,  then,  are  equally  just  and  true,  in  as  far  as  concerns  the 
individual  whose  taste  is  in  question;  and  what  a  man  feels  distinctly 
to  be  beautiful,  is  beautiful  to  him,  whatever  other  people  may  think  of  it. 
All  this  follows  clearly  from  the  theory  now  in  question  :  but  it  does  not 
follow  from  it  that  all  tastes  are  equally  good  or  desirable,  or  that  there 
is  any  difficulty  in  describing  that  which  is  really  the  best,  and  the  most 
to  be  envied.  The  only  use  of  the  faculty  of  taste  is  to  afford  an  inno- 
cent delight,  and  to  aid  the  cultivation  of  a  liner  morality;  and  that 
man  will  certainly  have  the  most  delight  from  this  faculty  who  has  the 
most  numerous  and  the  most  powerful  perceptions  of  beauty.  But  if 
beauty  consist  in  the  reflection  of  our  affections  and  sympathies,  it  is 
plain  that  he  will  always  see  the  most  beauty  whose  affections  are 
warmest  and  most  exercised,  whose  imagination  is  the  most  power- 
ful, and  who  has  most  accustomed  himself  to  attend  to  the  objects  by 
which  he  is  surrounded.  In  as  far  as  mere  feeling  and  enjoyment  are 
concerned,  therefore,  it  seems  evident  that  the  best  taste  must  be  that 
which  belongs  to  the  best  affections,  the  most  active  fancy,  and  the 
most  attentive  habits  of  observation.  It  will  follow  pretty  exactly,  too, 
that  all  men's  perceptions  of  beauty  will  be  nearly  in  proportion  to  the 
degree  of  their  sensibility  and  social  sympathies ;  and  that  those  who 
have  no  affections  towards  sentient  beings,  will  be  just  as  insensible  to 
beauty  in  external  objects,  as  he  who  cannot  hear  the  sound  of  his 
friend's  voice  must  be  deaf  to  its  echo. 

"  In  so  far  as  the  sense  of  beauty  is  regarded  as  a  mere  source  of  en- 
joyment, this  seems  to  be  the  only  distinction  that  deserves  to  be  at- 
tended to  ;  and  the  only  cultivation  that  taste  should  ever  receive,  with 
a  view  to  the  gratification  of  the  individual,  should  be  through  the  in- 
direct channel  of  cultivating  the  affections  and  powers  of  observation. 
If  we  aspire,  however,  to  be  creators  as  well  as  observers  of  beauty, 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


55 


and  place  any  part  of  our  happiness  in  ministering  to  the  gratification  of 
others — as  artists,  or  poets,  or  authors  of  any  sort — then,  indeed,  a  new 
distinction  of  tastes,  and  a  far  more  laborious  system  of  cultivation  will 
be  necessary.  A  man  who  pursues  only  his  own  delight  will  be  as 
much  charmed  with  objects  that  suggest  powerful  emotions,  in  conse- 
quence of  personal  and  accidental  associations,  as  with  those  that  intro- 
duce similar  emotions,  by  means  of  associations  that  are  universal  and 
indestructible.  To  him,  all  objects  of  the  former  class  are  really  as 
beautiful  as  those  of  the  latter — and,  for  his  own  gratification,  the 
creation  of  that  sort  of  beauty  is  just  as  important  an  occupation ;  but 
if  he  conceive  the  ambition  of  creating  beauties  for  the  admiration  of 
others,  he  must  be  cautious  to  employ  only  such  objects  as  are  the 
natural  signs,  or  the  inseparable  concomitants  of  emotions,  of  which 
the  greater  part  of  mankind  are  susceptible ;  and  his  taste  will  then 
deserve  to  be  called  bad  and  false,  if  he  obtrude  upon  the  public,  as 
beautiful,  objects  that  are  not  likely  to  be  associated  in  common  minds 
with  any  interesting  impressions. 

"  For  a  man  himself,  then,  there  is  no  taste  that  is  either  bad  or  false; 
and  the  only  difference  worthy  of  being  attended  to,  is  that  between  a 
great  deal  and  a  very  little.  Some  who  have  cold  affections — sluggish 
imaginations,  and  no  habits  of  observation,  can  with  difficulty  discern 
beauty  in  anything ;  while  others,  who  are  full  of  kindness  and  sensi- 
bility, and  who  have  been  accustomed  to  attend  to  all  the  objects  around 
them,  feel  it  almost  in  everything.  It  is  no  matter  what  other  people 
may  think  of  the  objects  of  their  admiration  ;  nor  ought  it  to  be  any 
concern  of  theirs,  that  the  public  would  be  astonished  or  offended  if 
they  were  called  upon  to  join  in  that  admiration.  As  long  as  no  such 
call  is  made,  this  anticipated  discrepancy  of -feeling  need  give  them  no 
uneasiness ;  and  the  suspicion  of  it  should  produce  no  contempt  in  any 
other  person.  It  is  a  strange  aberration,  indeed,  of  vanity,  that  makes 
us  despise  persons  for  being  happy — for  having  sources  of  enjoyment  in 
which  we  cannot  share ;  and  yet  this  is  the  true  account  of  the  ridicule 
which  is  so  generally  poured  upon  individuals  who  seek  only  to  enjoy 
their  peculiar  tastes  unmolested ;  for,  if  there  be  any  truth  in  the  theory 
we  have  been  expounding,  no  taste  is  bad  for  any  other  reason  than 
because  it  is  peculiar,  as  the  objects  in  which  it  delights  must  actually 
serve  to  suggest  to  the  individual  those  common  emotions  and  universal 
affections  upon  which  the  sense  of  beauty  is  everywhere  founded.  The 
misfortune  is,  however,  that  we  are  apt  to  consider  all  persons  who 
make  known  their  peculiar  relishes,  and  especially  all  who  create  any 
objects  for  their  gratification,  as  in  some  measure  dictating  to  the  public. 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


and  setting  op  an  idol  for  general  adoration ;  and  hence  this  intolerant 
interference  with  almost  all  peculiar  perceptions  of  beauty,  and  the  un- 
sparing derision  that  pursues  all  deviations  from  acknowledged  standards. 
This  intolerance,  we  admit,  is  often  provoked  by  something  of  a  spirit  of 
proseh/tism  and  arrogance,  in  those  who  mistake  their  own  casual  asso- 
ciations for  natural  or  universal  relations ;  and  the  consequence  is,  that 
mortified  vanity  dries  up  the  fountain  of  their  peculiar  enjoyment,  and 
disenchants,  by  a  new  association  of  general  contempt  or  ridicule,  the 
scenes  that  had  been  consecrated  by  some  innocent  but  accidental 
emotion. 

"  As  all  men  must  have  some  peculiar  associations,  all  men  must  have 
some  peculiar  notions  of  beauty,  and,  of  course,  to  a  certain  extent,  a 
taste  that  the  public  would  be  entitled  to  consider  as  false  or  vitiated. 
For  those  who  make  no  demands  on  public  admiration,  however,  it  is 
hard  to  be  obliged  to  sacrifice  this  source  of  enjoyment;  and  even  for 
those  who  labour  for  applause,  the  wisest  course,  perhaps,  if  it  were 
only  practicable,  would  be  to  have  two  tastes — one  to  enjoy,  and  one  to 
work  by — one  founded  upon  universal  associations,  according  to  which 
they  finished  those  performances  for  which  they  challenged  universal 
praise,  and  another  guided  by  all  casual  and  individual  associations, 
through  which  they  looked  fondly  upon  nature,  and  upon  the  objects 
of  their  secret  admiration." 

I  have  now  endeavoured  to  present  to  the  reader  an  ample  analysis 
of  the  opinions  of  those  who  have  written  most  correctly — with  the 
most  philosophical  views — and  who,  from  the  great  authority  of  their 
names,  are  most  worthy  of  being  listened  to  on  this  highly  interesting 
subject,  the  Origin  of  Taste.  From  their  united  judgment  it  seems  now 
to  be  established,  that  there  really  are  no  intrinsic  or  inherent  qualities 
of  sublimity  or  beauty  actually  existing  in  the  objects  of  material  creation, 
but  that  the  emotions  of  sublimity  or  beauty  which  we  experience  whilst 
regarding  them,  are  immediately  excited  in  us  by  the  material  qualities 
of  those  objects  being  associated  in  our  minds  with  the  mental  qualities 
— the  virtues,  the  vices,  the  passions,  the  happiness,  or  the  misery  of 
man — for  it  is  man  and  his  concerns  alone  that  can  rouse  us  to  yield 
that  degree  of  interest  which  is  capable  of  sympathetically  awakening- 
human  feelings.  The  associations  so  formed  may  be  either  certain  or 
accidental,  general  or  particular,  permanent  or  temporary.  The  material 
object  is,  as  it  were,  but  the  mirror  that  reflects  the  emotions  which 
have  been  instantaneously  awakened  by  association  in  our  own  bosoms. 
But  this  development  of  the  mode  by  which  the  human  mind  is  affected 
with  emotions  of  sublimity  or  beauty  by  the  objects  of  the  material 


OX  THE  ORIC+IN  OF  TASTE. 


57 


world,  by  no  means  does  away  with  the  necessity  of  the  cultivation  of 
the  art  of  selecting,  of  creating,  or  of  combining  objects,  for  the  purpose 
of  giving  delight  to  man.  For,  as  that  individual  will  certainlv  have 
the  most  delight  from  the  contemplation  of  the  works  of  nature  or  of 
art  who  has  the  most  numerous  and  the  most  powerful  associative  per- 
ceptions of  Beauty,  so  it  is  evident  that  those  objects  which  are  capable  of 
exciting  the  widest  range  of  association  throughout  the  entire  mass  of  the 
human  race,  will  always  be  the  most  generally  pleasing  and  acceptable  to 
mankind,  whilst  those  objects  which  are  most  capable  of  touching  respon- 
sive chords  of  general  association  among  the  educated  portion  of  man- 
kind, must  necessarily  be  most  generally  acceptable  to  all  who  belong  to 
this  more  cultivated  cast.  He,  therefore,  who  has  the  taste  and  the 
discernment  to  discover  these,  to  classify  and  to  combine  them,  and  to 
point  out  how  they  may  be  so  placed  before  us — so  classed  and  so 
combined — as  to  afford  the  greatest  quantum  of  pleasure  to  persons  of 
such  refinement  who  may  contemplate  them,  must  necessarily  deserve 
the  attention  as  well  as  the  thanks  of  those  for  whose  delight  he  labours. 
Sir  Uvedale  Price  has  conferred  this  boon  upon  us  in  a  very  high  degree 
by  his  Observations  on  Landscape  Gardening,  in  which  the  acuteness  of 
his  perception,  the  nicety  of  his  discrimination,  and  the  highly  cultivated 
delicacy  of  his  taste,  have  enabled  him  to  give  the  happiest  selection  of 
the  liveliest  and  most  pleasing  pictures,  illustrative  of  all  that  this  fas- 
cinating art  ought  truly  to  be  ;  and  it  is  impossible  to  doubt,  that  the 
more  general  perusal  of  such  a  work  by  those  who  are  blessed  with  the 
possession  of  parts  of  the  surface  of  our  native  soil  upon  which  they 
may  work  their  will,  and  who  have  also  the  means  of  improving  them, 
must  ultimately  tend  greatly  to  spread  and  to  enrich  that  beauty  for 
which  the  face  of  this  happy  country  of  ours  is  already  so  generally 
celebrated.  For,  rich  as  these  happy  islands  of  ours  are  in  natural  scenery, 
and  much  as  has  been  done  within  them  by  the  hand  of  man  to  aid  and 
embellish  nature,  no  one  possessed  of  good  taste  in  landscape  gardening 
can  travel  throughout  the  length  and  breadth  of  our  land,  without  being 
satisfied  that  much  yet  remains  to  be  done,  and,  perhaps,  not  a  little  to 
be  undone.  Let  me,  then,  earnestly  call  upon  all  such  highly  privileged 
individuals  as  have  landed  estates,  and  sufficient  means  to  enable  them 
to  embellish  them,  to  bear  in  mind,  that  amongst  the  many  duties  which 
in  reason  and  justice  appear  to  be  entailed  upon  them  by  the  very  cir- 
cumstance of  their  being  the  lords  of  a  portion  of  their  native  soil,  that 
of  their  obligation  to  contribute  to  the  general  improvement  of  the  face 
of  the  country  is  not  to  be  neglected.  And,  as  this  can  be  effected 
solely  by  the  exertions  of  individuals,  each  in  his  own  particular  sphere, 


ON  THE  ORIGIN  OF  TASTE. 


every  landed  proprietor  is  bound,  as  fur  as  his  subject  will  admit  of  it, 
or  bis  means  allow  him,  to  do  all  in  bis  power  to  bestow  upon  bis  pos- 
session, whether  it  be  small,  or  whether  it  be  great,  the  fullest  enrich- 
ment of  which  good  taste  would  pronounce  that  its  features  may  be 
capable.  He  can  have  little  feeling  for  bis  country  who  does  not  admit 
the  truth  as  well  as  the  importance  of  this  view  of  the  matter,  in  which 
no  account  is  taken  of  that  exquisite  self-gratification  which  every  one 
devoted  to  the  practical  pursuits  of  landscape  gardening  must  reap  from 
this  most  delightful,  as  well  as  most  innocent  and  rational  of  all  rural 
employments — a  self-gratification,  be  it  remembered,  which  cannot  be 
indulged  in  without  producing  effects  that  must  give  the  widest  pleasure 
to  all  the  rest  of  mankind  who  may  have  an  opportunity  of  looking  upon 
them,  not  only  in  our  own  time,  but  for  generations  to  come.  Indeed, 
it  is  natural  for  every  Briton  to  feel  a  sort  of  national,  if  not  an 
individual  appropriation,  in  all  the  finest  and  most  remarkable  places, 
which,  as  it  were,  belong  to  the  nation.  Every  actual  proprietor,  there- 
fore, ought  to  feel  that  the  eyes  of  his  country  are  upon  him  and  upon 
his  place — that,  in  fact,  he  holds  it  for  his  country — and  that,  farther, 
the  tenure  by  which  he  holds  it  is  that  of  an  obligation  to  do  all  for  it 
that  industry,  guided  by  the  best  taste,  can  effect,  to  make  it  a  feature 
worthy  of  British  landscape, 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE,  &c. 


CHAPTER  r. 


There  is  no  country,  I  believe — if  we  except  China — where  the  art  of 
laying  out  grounds  is  so  much  cultivated  as  it  now  is  in  England.  For- 
merly the  decorations  near  the  house  were  infinitely  more  magnificent 
and  expensive  than  they  are  at  present ;  but  the  embellishments  of 
what  are  called  the  grounds,  and  of  all  the  extensive  scenery  round  the 
place  were  much  less  attended  to  ;  and,  in  general,  the  park,  with  all 
its  timber  and  thickets,  was  left  in  a  state  of  picturesque  neglect.  As 
these  embellishments  are  now  extended  over  a  wdiole  district,  and  as 
they  give  a  new  and  peculiar  character  to  the  general  face  of  the  country, 
it  is  well  worth  considering  whether  they  give  a  natural  and  a  beautiful 
one — and  whether  the  present  system  of  improving — to  use  a  short, 
though  often  an  inaccurate  term — is  founded  on  any  just  principles  of 
taste. 


(50 


SIR  IVEDALE  PRICE 


In  order  to  examine  this  question,  the  first  inquiry  will  naturally  be, 
whether  there  is  any  standard  to  which,  in  point  of  grouping  and  of 
general  composition,  works  of  this  sort  can  be  referred  ;  any  authority 
higher  than  that  of  the  persons  who  have  gained  the  most  general  and 
popular  reputation  by  those  works,  and  whose  method  of  conducting 
them  has  had  the  most  extensive  influence  on  the  general  taste?  I 
think  there  is  a  standard — there  are  authorities  of  an  infinitely  higher 
kind — the  authorities  of  those  great  artists  who  have  most  diligently 
studied  the  beauties  of  nature,  both  in  their  grandest  and  most  general 
effects,  and  in  their  minutest  detail — who  have  observed  every  variety 
of  form  and  of  colour — have  been  able  to  select  and  combine,  and  then, 
by  the  magic  of  their  art,  to  fix  upon  the  canvass  all  these  various 
beauties. 

But  however  highly  I  may  think  of  the  art  of  painting,  compared 
\\  itli  that  of  improving,  nothing  can  be  farther  from  my  intention — and 
I  wish  to  impress  it  in  the  strongest  manner  on  the  reader's  mind — than 
to  recommend  the  study  of  pictures  in  preference  to  that  of  nature, 
much  less  to  the  exclusion  of  it.  AVhoeATer  studies  art  alone,  will  have 
a  narrow  pedantic  manner  of  considering  all  objects,  and  of  referring 
them  solely  to  the  minute  and  practical  purposes  of  that  art — whatever 
it  be — to  which  his  attention  has  been  particularly  directed.  Of  this 
Mr.  Brown's  followers  afford  a  very  striking  example ;  and  if  it  be 
right  that  every  thing  should  be  referred  to  art,  at  least  let  it  be  referred 
to  one,  whose  variety,  compared  to  the  monotony  of  what  is  called  im- 
provement, appears  infinite,  but  which  again  falls  as  short  of  the  bound- 
less variety  of  the  mistress  of  all  art. 

The  use,  therefore,  of  studying  pictures,  is  not  merely  to  make  us  ac- 
quainted with  the  combinations  and  effects  that  are  contained  in  them, 
but  to  guide  us,  by  means  of  those  general  heads — as  they  may  be  called 
— of  composition,  in  our  search  of  the  numberless  and  untouched  varieties 
and  beauties  of  nature  ;  for  as  he  who  studies  art  only  will  have  a  con- 
fined taste,  so  he  who  looks  at  nature  only,  will  have  a  vague  and  un- 
settled one  ;  and  in  this  more  extended  sense  I  shall  interpret  the  Italian 
proverb,  "  Chi  sinsegna,  ha  un  pazzo  per  maestro" — He  is  a  fool  who 
does  not  profit  by  the  experience  of  others. 

We  are  therefore  to  profit  by  the  experience  contained  in  pictures, 
but  not  to  content  ourselves  with  that  experience  only ;  nor  are  we  to 
consider  even  those  of  the  highest  class  as  absolute  and  infallible  stand- 
ards, but  as  the  best  and  the  only  standards  we  have;  as  compositions, 
which,  like  those  of  the  great  classical  authors,  have  been  consecrated 
by  long  uninterrupted  admiration,  and  which  therefore  have  a  similar 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


61 


claim  to  influence  our  judgment,  and  to  form  our  taste  in  all  that  is 
within  their  province.  These  are  the  reasons  for  studying  copies  of  na- 
ture, though  the  original  is  before  us,  that  we  may  not  lose  the  benefit 
of  what  is  of  such  great  moment  in  all  arts  and  sciences,  the  accumulated 
experience  of  past  ages  ;  and  with  respect  to  the  art  of  improving,  we 
may  look  upon  pictures  as  a  set  of  experiments  of  the  different  ways  in 
which  trees,  buildings,  water,  &c.  may  be  disposed,  grouped,  and  ac- 
companied, in  the  most  beautiful  and  striking  manner,  and  in  every 
style,  from  the  most  simple  and  rural,  to  the  grandest  and  most  orna- 
mental. Many  of  those  objects,  that  are  scarcely  marked  as  they  lie 
scattered  over  the  face  of  nature,  when  brought  together  in  the  compass 
of  a  small  space  of  canvass  are  forcibly  impressed  upon  the  eye,  which 
by  that  means  learns  how  to  separate,  to  select,  and  to  combine. 

Who  can  doubt  whether  Shakspeare  and  Fielding  had  not  infinitely 
more  amusement  from  society  in  all  its  various  views  than  common  ob- 
servers ?  I  believe  it  can  be  as  little  doubted,  that  the  having  read  such 
authors  must  give  any  man,  however  acute  his  penetration,  more  enlarged 
views  of  human  nature  in  general,  as  well  as  a  more  intimate  accpiaintance 
with  particular  characters,  than  he  would  have  had  from  the  observation 
of  nature  only ;  that  many  combinations  of  characters  and  of  incidents, 
which  might  otherwise  have  escaped  his  notice,  would  forcibly  strike 
him,  from  the  recollection  of  scenes  and  passages  in  such  writers  ;  that 
in  all  these  cases,  the  pleasure  we  receive  from  what  passes  in  real  life 
is  rendered  infinitely  more  poignant,  by  a  resemblance  to  what  we 
have  read,  or  have  seen  on  the  stage.  Such  an  observer  will  not 
divide  what  passes  into  scenes  and  chapters,  and  be  pleased  with  it  in 
proportion  as  it  will  do  for  a  novel  or  a  play,  but  he  will  be  pleased  on 
the  same  principles  as  Shakspeare  or  Fielding  would  have  been.  The 
parallel  that  I  wish  to  establish  is  very  obvious  :  the  works  of  genius 
in  writing  awaken  and  direct  our  attention  towards  many  striking  scenes 
and  characters,  which  might  otherwise  escape  us  in  real  life,  and  the 
works  of  genius  in  painting  point  out  to  our  notice  a  thousand  effects 
and  combinations  of  the  happiest,  though  not  of  the  most  obvious  kind, 
in  real  scenery. 

Had  the  art  of  improving  been  cultivated  for  as  long  a  time,  and  upon 
as  settled  principles  as  that  of  painting,  and  were  there  extant  various 
works  of  genius,  which,  like  those  of  the  other  art,  had  stood  the  test  of 
ages  (though  from  the  great  change  which  the  growth  and  decay  of 
trees  must  produce  in  the  original  design  of  the  artist,  this  is  hardly 
possible)  there  would  not  be  the  same  necessity  of  referring  and  com- 
paring the  works  of  reality  to  those  of  imitation  ;  but  as  the  case  stands 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


at  present,  the  only  models  of  composition  that  approach  to  perfection, 
the  only  fixed  and  u  nchmui  in (J  selections  from  the  works  of  nature  united 
with  those  of  art,  are  in  the  pictures  and  designs  of  the  most  eminent 
masters. 

But  although  certain  happy  compositions,  detached  from  the  general 
mass  of  objects  and  considered  by  themselves,  have  the  greatest  and 
most  lasting  effect  both  in  nature  and  painting  ;  and  though  the  painter, 
in  respect  to  his  own  art,  may  think  of  those  only,  and  give  himself  no 
concern  about  the  rest,  he  cannot  do  so  if  he  be  an  improver  as  well  as  a 
painter;  for  he  might  then  neglect  or  injure  what  was  essential  to  the 
whole,  by  attending  only  to  a  part.  By  this  we  may  perceive  a  great 
and  obvious  difference  between  a  painter  who  confines  himself  to  his  own 
profession,  and  one  who  should  add  to  it  that  of  an  improver;  the  first 
would  only  have  to  observe  what  formed  a  single  composition  or  picture, 
which  he  might  transfer  upon  his  canvass ;  the  second  must  consider 
the  whole  range  of  scenery  in  which  not  only  the  most  striking  pictures 
or  compositions  are  to  be  shown  to  advantage,  but  where  all  the  inter- 
mediate parts,  with  all  their  bearings,  relations,  and  connections,  must 
be  taken  into  the  account.  I  have  supposed,  what  I  wish  were  oftener 
the  case,  an  union  of  the  two  professions  ;  for  it  can  hardly  be  doubted, 
that  he  who  can  best  select  the  happiest  compositions  from  the  general 
mass  of  objects,  and  knows  the  principles  on  which  he  makes  those  se- 
lect ions,  must  also  be  the  best  qualified,  should  he  turn  his  thoughts  that 
way,  to  arrange  the  connections  throughout  an  extensive  scenery.  He 
must  likewise  be  the  most  competent  judge — and  nothing  in  the  whole 
art  of  improvement  requires  a  nicer  discrimination — where,  and  in  what 
degree,  some  inferior  beauties  should  be  sacrificed,  in  order  to  give 
greater  effect  to  those  of  a  higher  order.  I  am  far  from  meaning  by 
this,  that  every  painter  is  capable  of  becoming  an  improver  in  the  good 
inse  of  the  word,  but  only  such  as  to  a  liberal  mind,  join  a  strong  feel- 
ing for  nature  as  well  as  art,  and  have  directed  their  attention  to  the 
arrangement  of  real  scenery  ;  for  there  is  a  wide  difference  between 
looking  at  nature  merely  with  a  view  to  making  pictures,  and  looking 
at  pictures  with  a  view  to  the  improvement  of  our  ideas  of  nature  :  the 
former  often  does  contract  the  taste  when  pursued  too  closely;  the 
latter,  I  believe,  as  generally  refines  and  enlarges  it.  The  greatest 
painters  were  men  of  enlarged  and  liberal  minds,  and  well  acquainted 
with  many  arts  besides  their  own.  Leonardo  da  Vinci,  Michael  An- 
gelo,  Raphael,  Titian,  were  not  merely  patronised  by  the  sovereigns  of 
that  period ;  they  were  considered  almost  as  friends  by  such  men  as 
Leo,  Francis,  and  Charles,  and  were  intimately  connected  with  Aretino, 


()N  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


03 


Castiglione,  and  all  the  eminent  wits  of  that  time.    Those  great  artists 

 nor  need  I  have  gone  so  far  back  for  examples — considered  pictures 

and  nature  as  throwing  a  reciprocal  light  on  each  other,  and  as  connected 
with  history,  poetry,  and  all  the  fine  arts  ;  but  the  practice  of  too  many 
lovers  of  painting  has  been  very  different,  and  has,  I  believe,  contributed 
in  a  great  degree,  and  with  great  reason,  to  give  a  prejudice  against  the 
study  of  pictures  as  a  preparation  to  that  of  nature.  In  the  same  man- 
ner that  many  painters  consider  natural  scenery  merely  with  a  reference 
to  their  own  practice,  many  connoisseurs  consider  pictures  merely  with 
a  reference  to  other  pictures,  as  a  school  in  which  they  may  learn  the 
routine  of  their  connoisseurship — that  is  an  acquaintance  with  the  most 
prominent  marks  and  peculiarities  of  different  masters  :  but  they  rarely 
look  upon  them  in  that  point  of  view  in  which  alone  they  can  produce 
any  real  advantage — as  a  school  in  which  we  may  learn  to  enlarge,  re- 
fine, and  correct  our  ideas  of  nature,  and  in  return,  may  qualify  ourselves 
by  this  more  liberal  course  of  study,  to  be  real  judges  of  what  is  excel- 
lent in  imitation.  This  reflection  may  account  for  what  otherwise  seems 
quite  unaccountable — namely,  that  many  enthusiastic  admirers  and  col- 
lectors of  Claude,  Poussin,  &c.  should  have  suffered  professed  improvers 
to  deprive  the  general  and  extended  scenery  of  their  places  of  all  that 
those  painters  would  have  most  admired  and  copied. 

The  great  object  of  our  present  inquiry  seems  to  be,  what  is  that 
mode  of  study  which  will  best  enable  a  man,  of  a  liberal  and  intelligent 
mind,  to  judge  of  the  forms,  colours,  effects,  and  combinations  of  visible 
objects — to  judge  of  them  either  as  single  compositions,  which  may  be 
considered  by  themselves  without  reference  to  what  surrounds  them, 
or  else  as  parts  of  scenery,  the  arrangement  of  which  must  be  more  or 
less  regulated  and  restrained  by  what  joins  them,  and  the  connection  of 
which  with  the  general  scenery  must  be  constantly  attended  to  ?  Such 
knowledge  and  judgment  comprehend  the  whole  science  of  improve- 
ment with  regard  to  its  effect  on  the  eye ;  and  I  believe  can  never  be 
perfectly  acquired,  unless  to  the  study  of  natural  scenery,  and  of  the 
various  styles  of  gardening  at  different  periods,  the  improver  adds  the 
theory  at  least  of  that  art,  the  very  essence  of  which  is  connection — a 
principle  of  all  others  the  most  adapted  to  correct  the  chief  defects  of 
improvers.  Connection  is  a  principle  always  present  to  the  painter's 
mind,  if  he  deserve  that  name  ;  and  by  the  guidance  of  which  he  con- 
siders all  sets  of  objects,  whatever  may  be  their  character  or  boundaries, 
from  the  most  extensive  prospect  to  the  most  confined  wood  scene  : 
neither  referring  every  thing  to  the  narrow  limits  of  his  canvass,  nor 
despising  what  will  not  suit  it,  unless,  indeed,  the  limits  of  his  mind  be 


S1K  UVKDALK  I' RICK 


equally  narrow  and  contracted  ;  for  when  I  speak  of  a  painter,  I  mean 
: i 1 1  artist,  not  a  mechanic. 

Whatever  minute  and  partial  objections  may  be  made  to  the  study 
of  pictures  for  the  purpose  of  improvement — many  of  which  I  have  dis- 
cussed in  my  letter  to  Mr.  Repton — yet  certainly  the  great  leading- 
principles  of  the  one  art — as  general  composition — grouping  the  sepa- 
rate parts — harmony  of  tints — unity  of  character,  are  equally  applicable 
to  the  other.  I  may  add  also,  what  is  so  very  essential  to  the  painter, 
though  at  first  sight  it  seems  hardly  within  the  province  of  the  improver 
— breadth  and  effect  of  light  and  shade. 

These  are  called  the  principles  of  painting,  because  that  art  has 
pointed  them  out  more  clearly,  by  separating  what  was  most  striking 
and  well  combined,  from  the  less  interesting  and  scattered  objects  of 
general  scenery ;  but  they  are  in  reality  the  general  principles  on 
which  the  effect  of  all  visible  objects  must  depend,  and  to  which  it  must 
be  referred. 

Nothing  can  be  more  directly  at  war  with  all  these  principles,  founded 
as  they  are  in  truth  and  in  nature,  than  the  present  system  of  laying 
out  grounds.  A  painter,  or  whoever  views  objects  with  a  painter's  eye, 
looks  with  indifference,  if  not  with  disgust,  at  the  clumps,  the  belts,  the 
made  water,  and  the  eternal  smoothness  and  sameness  of  a  finished 
place.  An  improver,  on  the  other  hand,  considers  these  as  the  most 
perfect  embellishment,  as  the  last  finishing  touches  that  nature  can  re- 
ceive from  art ;  and,  consequently,  must  think  the  finest  composition  of 
( Maude,  whom  I  mention  as  the  most  ornamented  of  all  the  great  mas- 
ters, comparatively  rude  and  imperfect ;  though  he  probably  might 
allow,  in  Mr.  Brown's  phrase,  that  it  had  "  capabilities." 

The  account  in  Peregrine  Pickle,  of  the  gentleman  who  had  improved 
Vandyke's  portraits  of  his  ancestors,  used  to  strike  me  as  rather  outre  ; 
but  I  met  with  a  similar  instance  some  years  ago,  that  makes  it  appear 
much  less  so.  I  was  looking  at  a  collection  of  pictures  with  Gains- 
borough ;  among  the  rest  the  housekeeper  showed  us  a  portrait  of  her 
master,  which  she  said  was  by  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds :  we  both  stared, 
for  not  only  the  touch  and  the  colouring,  but  the  whole  style  of  the 
drapery  and  the  general  effect  had  no  resemblance  to  his  manner. 
Upon  examining  the  housekeeper  more  particularly,  we  discovered  that 
her  master  had  had  every  thing  but  the  face — not  retouched  from  the 
colours  having  faded — but  totally  changed,  and  newly  composed,  as  well 
as  painted,  by  another — and,  I  need  not  add,  an  inferior  hand. 

Such  a  man  would  have  felt  as  little  scruple  in  making  a  Claude  like 
his  own  place,  as  in  making  his  own  portrait  like  a  scare-crow. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE, 


65 


But  no  one,  I  believe,  has  as  yet  been  daring  enough  to  improve  a 
picture  of  Claude,  or  at  least  to  acknowledge  it ;  yet  I  do  not  think  it 
extravagant  to  suppose  that  a  man,  thoroughly  persuaded,  from  his  own 
taste  and  from  the  authority  of  such  a  writer  as  Mr.  Walpole,  that  an 
art  unknown  to  every  age  and  climate — that  of  creating  landscapes — 
had  advanced  with  master-steps  to  vigorous  perfection ;  that  enough 
had  been  done  to  establish  such  a  school  of  landscape  as  cannot  be  found 
in  the  rest  of  the  globe ;  and  that  Milton  s  description  of  Paradise 
seems  to  have  been  copied  from  some  piece  of  modern  gardening ; — that 
such  a  man,  full  of  enthusiasm  for  this  new  art,  and  with  little  venera- 
tion for  that  of  painting,  should  choose  to  show  the  world  what  Claude 
might  have  been,  had  he  had  the  advantage  of  seeing  the  works  of  Mr. 
Brown.  The  only  difference  he  would  make  between  improving  a  pic- 
ture and  a  real  scene,  would  be  that  of  employing  a  painter  instead  of 
a  gardener. 

What  would  more  immediately  strike  him  would  be  the  total  want 
of  that  leading  feature  of  all  modern  improvements — the  clump  ;  and 
of  course  he  would  order  several  of  them  to  be  placed  in  the  most  open 
and  conspicuous  spots,  with,  perhaps,  here  and  there  a  patch  of  larches, 
as  forming  a  strong  contrast  in  shape  and  colour  to  the  Scotch  firs.  His 
eye,  which  had  been  used  to  see  even  the  natural  groups  of  trees  in 
improved  places,  made  as  separate  and  clump-like  as  possible,  would  be 
shocked  to  see  those  of  Claude — some  with  their  steins  half  concealed 
by  bushes  and  thickets  ;  others  standing  alone,  but,  by  means  of  those 
thickets,  or  of  detached  trees,  connected  with  other  groups  of  various 
sizes  and  shapes.  All  this  rubbish  must  be  totally  cleared  away,  the 
ground  made  everywhere  quite  smooth  and  level,  and  each  group  left 
upon  the  grass  perfectly  distinct  and  separate. 

Having  been  accustomed  to  whiten  all  distant  buildings,  those  of 
Claude,  from  the  effect  of  his  soft  vapoury  atmosphere,  would  appear 
to  him  too  indistinct ;  the  painter,  of  course,  would  be  ordered  to  give 
them  a  smarter  appearance,  which  might  possibly  be  communicated  to 
the  nearer  buildings  also.  Few  modern  houses  or  ornamental  buildings 
are  so  placed  among  trees,  and  partially  hidden  by  them,  as  to  conceal 
much  of  the  skill  of  the  architect,  or  the  expense  of  the  possessor ;  but 
in  Claude,  not  only  ruins,  but  temples  and  palaces,  are  often  so  mixed 
with  trees,  that  the  tops  overhang  their  balustrades,  and  the  luxuriant 
branches  shoot  between  the  openings  of  their  magnificent  columns  and 
porticos  ;  as  he  would  not  suffer  his  own  buildings  to  be  so  masked, 
neither  would  he  those  of  Claude  ;  and  these  luxuriant  boughs,  with  all 

E 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


that  obstructed  a  full  view  of  them,  the  painter  would  be  told  to  ex- 
punge,  and  carefully  to  restore  the  ornaments  they  had  concealed. 

The  Last  finishing,  both  to  places  and  pictures,  is  water.  In  Claude, 
it  partakes  of  the  general  softness  and  dressed  appearance  of  his  scenes, 
and  the  accompaniments  have,  perhaps,  less  of  rudeness  than  in  any 
other  master.  One  of  my  countrymen  at  Rome  was  observing,  that 
the  water  in  the  Colonna  Claude  had  rather  too  dressed  and  artificial 
an  appearance.  A  Frenchman,  who  was  also  looking  at  the  picture, 
cried  out,  "  Cependant,  Monsieur,  on  pourroit  y  donner  une  si  belle 
fdte  1"  This  was  very  characteristic  of  that  gay  nation,  but  it  is  equally 
so  of  a  number  of  Claude's  pictures.  They  have  an  air  de  fete  beyond 
all  others  ;  and  there  is  no  painter  whose  works  ought  to  be  so  much 
studied  for  highly  dressed  yet  varied  nature.  Yet,  compared  with  those 
of  a  piece  of  made  water,  or  of  an  improved  river,  his  banks  are  per- 
fectly savage  ;  parts  of  them  covered  with  trees  and  bushes  that  hang 
over  the  water  ;  and  near  the  edge  of  it,  tussucks  of  rushes,  large  stones, 
and  stumps ;  the  ground  sometimes  smooth,  sometimes  broken  and  ab- 
rupt, and  seldom  keeping,  for  a  long  space,  the  same  level  from  the 
water — no  curves  that  answer  each  other — no  resemblance,  in  short,  to 
what  the  improver  had  been  used  to  admire  :  a  few  strokes  of  the 
painter's  brush  would  reduce  the  bank  on  each  side  to  one  level,  to  one 
green ;  would  make  curve  answer  curve,  without  bush  or  tree  to  hinder 
the  eye  from  enjoying  the  uniform  smoothness  and  verdure,  and  from 
pursuing  without  interruption  the  continued  sweep  of  these  serpentine 
lines ; — a  little  cleaning  and  polishing  of  the  foreground,  would  give 
the  last  touches  of  improvement,  and  complete  the  picture. 

There  is  not  a  person,  in  the  smallest  degree  conversant  with  painting, 
who  would  not  at  the  same  time  be  shocked  and  diverted  at  the  black 
spots  and  the  white  spots — the  naked  water — the  naked  buildings — the 
scattered  unconnected  groups  of  trees,  and  all  the  gross  and  glaring 
violations  of  every  principle  of  the  art ;  and  yet  this,  without  any  ex- 
aggeration, is  the  method  in  which  many  scenes  worthy  of  Claude's 
pencil,  have  been  improved.  Is  it  then  possible  to  imagine,  that  the 
beauties  of  imitation  should  be  so  distinct  from  those  of  reality,  nay,  so 
completely  at  variance,  that  what  disgraces  and  makes  a  picture  ridicu- 
lous, should  become  ornamental  when  applied  to  nature  ? 

[From  my  own  knowledge  I  can  say,  that  however  valuable  the 
study  of  pictures  may  be  for  giving  perfection  to  professors  of  landscape 
gardening,  the  painting  of  them  does  not  always  produce  this  effect. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


67 


Artists,  and  especially  young  artists,  have,  not  unfrequently,  their 
tastes  so  much  narrowed  by  their  devotion  to  certain  styles  of  subject, 
as  to  be  incapable  of  enjoying,  or  even  of  tolerating  any  thing  in  nature, 
however  excellent  it  may  be,  if  it  be  of  a  different  character  from  that 
which  they  affect  in  their  works.  By  attempting  to  become  artists, 
they  have  ceased  to  be  men,  or  to  be  able  to  sympathise  with  the  uni- 
versality of  human  feeling.  It  would  be  vain  to  expect  that  landscape 
gardeners  could  be  made  of  such  men,  with  the  hope  of  their  producing 
scenes  which  should  give  general  delight  to  minds  expanded  by  educa- 
tion, and  the  love  of  nature.  I  have  sometimes  travelled  through  the 
most  interesting  countries  with  individuals  of  this  cast,  and  found  that 
great  as  was  the  delight  which  I  was  experiencing  from  the  contem- 
plation of  the  scenes  we  passed  through,  nothing  could  call  forth  one 
exclamation  of  pleasure  from  my  companions,  until  something  chanced 
to  arise  before  their  eyes  of  a  character  in  harmony  with  that  of  the 
subjects  they  were  most  prone  to  paint.  Such  men  would  pass  over 
nine-tenths  of  the  finest  places  in  England,  and  refuse  to  give  any  other 
opinion  than  that  all  was  barren.  That  artist,  indeed,  who  has  followed 
and  observed  nature  throughout  all  her  different  walks — who  can  draw 
enjoyment  from  associating  himself  with  her  in  her  softest  and  quietest 
scenes,  and  in  her  more  placid  moods,  as  well  as  when  she  wildly  wan- 
ders amid  the  dark  woods  and  rocky  fastnesses,  and  by  the  thundering 
cataracts  of  her  mountains — such  a  man  as  this,  I  say,  may  well  prove 
a  profound  master,  not  only  in  the  composition  of  pictures  on  canvass, 
but  in  that  also  of  those  which  may  be  created  in  actual  landscape  ;  but 
for  excellence  in  that  generalization  necessary  for  landscape  gardening, 
I  consider  that  a  very  universal  study  of  pictures  will  do  more  to  accom- 
plish the  individual,  than  the  particular  practice  of  any  one  style  of 
painting  them.  It  appears  indeed  to  me,  that  nothing  can  possibly 
tend  more  to  educate  the  mind,  for  the  just  conception  of  such  a  true 
taste  in  landscape  gardening  as  may  enable  its  possessor  to  prosecute 
this  delightful  art  with  the  hope  of  generally  awakening  agreeable 
associations  in  cultivated  minds,  than  the  frequent  and  extensive  study 
of  the  works  of  the  best  landscape  painters,  modern  as  well  as  ancient. 
Nay,  I  cannot  doubt  that  the  great  growth  of  the  art  of  landscape 
painting,  and  the  immense  multiplication  of  that  art  in  our  days,  as 
well  as  of  the  art  of  landscape  drawing  and  engraving,  all  of  which  are 
daily  increasing  the  taste  for  the  enjoyment  of  the  works  produced  by 
them,  must  have  a  tendency  to  augment  the  general  love  of  nature,  and 
so  to  multiply  the  individuals  of  that  cultivated  class  who  are  prepared 
to  receive  agreeable  impressions  from  its  happier  combinations ;  and 


SIR  I  Vi:i)ALK  PRICK 


thus,  by  reaction,  to  foster  and  to  perfect  the  art  of  landscape  gardening 
Itself*  Indeed,  if  the  more  general  acquaintance  which  mankind  are 
gradually  obtaining  with  graphic  scenes,  should  have  no  other  effect 
than  that  of  arresting  the  hideous  strides  of  the  demon  of  false  taste  in 
gardening,  whose  footsteps  have  disfigured  so  much  of  the  face  of  our 
country,  we  shall  have  good  reason  to  he  thankful.  But  lam  sanguine 
enough  to  anticipate  that  it  may  do  much  more  than  this,  and  that 
through  this  influence  of  the  graphic  art,  landscape  gardening  may  in 
future  1m-  expected  to  be  widely  extended  upon  those  just  and  natural 
principles  which  can  alone  make  its  very  existence  desirable. — E.] 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


69 


CHAPTER  II. 

It  seems  to  me  that  the  neglect — which  prevails  in  the  works  of  modern 
improvers — of  all  that  is  picturesque,  is  owing  to  their  exclusive  atten- 
tion to  high  polish  and  flowing  lines — the  charms  of  which  they  are  so 
engaged  in  contemplating,  that  they  overlook  two  of  the  most  fruitful 
sources  of  human  pleasure  :  the  first,  that  great  and  universal  source  of 
pleasure,  variety — the  power  of  which  is  independent  of  beauty,  but 
without  which  even  beauty  itself  soon  ceases  to  please ;  the  second,  in- 
tricacy— a  quality  wdiich,  though  distinct  from  variety,  is  so  connected 
and  blended  with  it,  that  the  one  can  hardly  exist  without  the  other. 

According  to  the  idea  I  have  formed  of  it,  intricacy  in  landscape 
might  be  defined,  that  disposition  of  objects,  which,  by  a  partial  and 
uncertain  concealment,  excites  and  flourishes  curiosity.  Many  per 
sons,  who  take  little  concern  in  the  intricacy  of  oaks,  beeches,  and 
thorns,  may  feel  the  effects  of  partial  concealment  in  more  interesting 
objects,  and  may  have  experienced  how  differently  the  passions  are 


70 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


moved  by  an  open  licentious  display  of  beauties,  and  by  the  unguarded 
disorder  which  sometimes  escapes  the  care  of  modesty,  and  which 
coquetry  so  successfully  imitates  : — ■ 

Parte  appar  dellc  mamme  acerbe  et  crude, 
Parte  altrui  ne  rieuopre  invida  veste ; 
Invida  si,  ma  *e  agli  occhi  il  varco  chiude, 
L 'amoroso  pensier  gia  non  s'arresta. 

Variety  can  hardly  require  a  definition,  though  from  the  practice  of 
ni;iiiy  layers-out  of  ground,  one  might  suppose  it  did.  Upon  the  whole, 
it  appears  to  me,  that  as  intricacy  in  the  disposition,  and  variety  in  the 
tonus,  the  tints,  and  the  lights  and  shadows  of  objects,  are  the  great 
characteristics  of  picturesque  scenery;  so  monotony  and  baldness,  are 
the  great  defects  of  improved  places. 

Nothing  would  place  this  in  so  distinct  a  point  of  view,  as  a  com- 
parison between  some  familiar  scene  in  its  natural  and  picturesque 
state,  and  in  that  which  would  be  its  improved  state  according  to  the 
present  mode  of  gardening.  All  painters  who  have  imitated  the  more 
con tined  scenes  of  nature,  have  been  fond  of  making  studies  from  old 
neglected  bye-roads  and  hollow- ways;  and  perhaps  there  are  few  spots 
that,  in  so  small  a  compass,  have  a  greater  variety  of  that  sort  of  beauty 
called  picturesque ;  but,  I  believe,  the  instances  are  very  rare  of  pain- 
ters, who  have  turned  out  volunteers  into  a  gentleman's  walk  or  drive, 
either  when  made  between  artificial  banks,  or  when  the  natural  sides  or 
banks  have  been  improved.  I  shall  endeavour  to  examine  whence  it 
happens,  that  a  painter  looks  coldly  on  what  is  very  generally  admired, 
and  discovers  a  thousand  interesting  objects,  where  an  improver  passes 
on  with  indifference,  if  not  with  disgust. 

Perhaps  what  is  most  immediately  striking  in  a  lane  of  this  kind  is 
its  intricacy.  Any  winding  road,  indeed,  especially  where  there  are 
banks,  must  necessarily  have  some  degree  of  intricacy ;  but  in  a  dressed 
lane  every  effort  of  art  seems  directed  against  that  disposition  of  the 
ground — the  sides  are  so  regularly  sloped,  so  regularly  planted,  and  the 
space,  when  there  is  any,  between  them  and  the  road,  so  uniformly 
levelled  ;  the  sweeps  of  the  road  so  plainly  artificial,  the  verges  of  grass 
that  bound  it  so  nicely  edged — the  whole,  in  short,  has  such  an  appear- 
ance of  having  been  made  by  a  receipt,  that  curiosity,  that  most  active 
principle  of  pleasure,  is  almost  extinguished. 

But  in  hollow-lanes  and  by-roads,  all  the  leading  features,  and  a 
thousand  circumstances  of  detail,  promote  the  natural  intricacy  of  the 
ground :  the  turns  are  sudden  and  unprepared — the  banks  sometimes 
broken  and  abrupt — sometimes  smooth  and  gently,  but  not  uniformly 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


71 


sloping — now  wildly  overhung  with  thickets  of  trees  and  bushes — now 
loosely  skirted  with  wood — no  regular  verge  of  grass,  no  cut  edges,  no 
distinct  lines  of  separation — all  is  mixed  and  blended  together,  and  the 
border  of  the  road  itself,  shaped  by  the  mere  tread  of  passengers  and 
animals,  is  as  unconstrained  as  the  footsteps  that  formed  it.  Even  the 
tracks  of  the  wheels — for  no  circumstance  is  indifferent — contribute  to 
the  picturesque  effect  of  the  whole ;  the  varied  lines  they  describe  just 
mark  the  way  among  trees  and  bushes — often  some  obstacle,  a  cluster 
of  low  thorns,  a  furze  bush,  a  tussuck,  a  large  stone,  forces  the  wheels 
into  sudden  and  intricate  turns — often  a  group  of  trees  or  a  thicket, 
occasions  the  road  to  separate  into  two  parts,  leaving  a  sort  of  island  in 
the  middle. 

These  are  a  few  of  the  picturesque  accidents,  which,  in  lanes  and 
by-roads,  attract  the  notice  of  painters.  In  many  scenes  of  that  kind, 
the  varieties  of  form,  of  colour,  and  of  light  and  shade,  which  present 
themselves  at  every  step,  are  numberless ;  and  it  is  a  singular  circum- 
stance, that  some  of  the  most  striking  among  them  should  be  owing  to 
the  indiscriminate  hacking  of  the  peasant,  nay,  to  the  very  decay  that 
is  occasioned  by  it.  When  opposed  to  the  tameness  of  the  poor  pinioned 
trees — whatever  their  age — of  a  gentleman's  plantation  drawn  up  straight 
and  even  together,  there  is  often  a  sort  of  spirit  and  animation  in  the 
manner  in  which  old  neglected  pollards  stretch  out  their  limbs  quite 
across  these  hollow  roads,  in  every  wild  and  irregular  direction ;  on 
some,  the  large  knots  and  protuberances  add  to  the  ruggedness  of  their 
twisted  trunks ;  in  others,  the  deep  hollow  of  the  inside,  the  mosses  on 
the  bark,  the  rich  yellow  of  the  touch-wood,  with  the  blackness  of  the 
more  decayed  substance,  afford  such  variety  of  tints,  of  brilliant  and 
mellow  lights,  with  deep  and  peculiar  shades,  as  the  finest  timber  tree, 
however  beautiful  in  other  respects,  with  all  its  health  and  vigour  can- 
not exhibit. 

This  careless  method  of  cutting,  just  as  the  farmer  happened  to  want 
a  few  stakes  or  poles,  gives  infinite  variety  to  the  general  outline  of  the 
banks.  Near  to  one  of  these  "  unwedgeable  and  gnarled  oaks,"  often 
rises  the  slender  elegant  form  of  a  young  beech,  ash,  or  birch,  that  had 
escaped  the  axe,  whose  tender  bark  and  light  foliage  appear  still  more 
delicate  and  airy,  when  seen  sideways  against  the  rough  bark  and 
massy  head  of  the  oak — sometimes  it  rises  alone  from  the  bank — some- 
times from  amid  a  cluster  of  rich  hollies  or  wild  junipers — sometimes 
its  light  and  upright  stem  is  embraced  by  the  projecting  cedar-like 
boughs  of  the  yew. 

The  ground  itself  in  these  lanes  is  as  much  varied  in  form,  tint,  and 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


lighl  and  shade,  as  the  plants  that  grow  upon  it;  this,  as  usual,  instead 
of  owing  any  thing  to  art,  is,  on  the  contrary,  occasioned  by  accident 
and  neglect.  The  winter  torrents  in  some  places  wash  down  the  mould 
from  the  upper  grounds,  and  form  projections  of  various  shapes,  which, 
from  the  fatness  of  the  soil,  are  generally  enriched  with  the  most  luxu- 
riant vegetation  ;  in  other  parts  they  tear  the  banks  into  deep  hollows, 
discovering  the  different  strata  of  earth,  and  the  shaggy  roots  of  trees. 
These  hollows  are  frequently  overgrown  with  wild  roses,  with  honey- 
suckles, periwincles,  and  other  trailing  plants,  which,  with  their  flowers 
and  pendant  branches,  have  quite  a  different  effect  when  hanging  loosely 
over  one  of  these  recesses,  opposed  to  its  deep  shade,  and  mixed  with 
the  fantastic  roots  of  trees  and  the  varied  tints  of  the  soil,  from  that 
which  they  produce  when  they  are  trimmed  into  bushes,  or  crawl  along 
a  shrubbery,  where  the  ground  has  been  worked  into  one  uniform  slope. 
In  the  summer  time  these  little  caverns  afford  a  cool  retreat  for  the 
sheep ;  and  it  is  difficult  to  imagine  a  more  beautiful  foreground  than 
is  formed  by  the  different  groups  of  them  in  one  of  these  lanes  ;  some 
feeding  on  the  patches  of  turf,  that  in  the  wider  parts  are  intermixed 
with  the  fern  and  bushes ;  some  lying  in  the  niches  they  have  worn  in 
the  banks  among  the  roots  of  trees,  and  to  which  they  have  made  many 
sidelong  paths ;  some  reposing  in  these  deep  recesses,  their  bowers 

O'er-canopied  with  luscious  eglantine. 

Near  the  house,  picturesque  beauty  must,  in  many  cases,  be  sacrificed 
to  neatness ;  but  it  is  a  sacrifice,  and  one  which  should  not  wantonly 
be  made.  A  gravel  walk  cannot  have  the  playful  variety  of  a  by- 
road ;  there  must  be  a  border  to  the  gravel,  and  that  and  the  sweeps 
must,  in  great  measure,  be  regular,  and  consequently  formal.  I  am 
convinced,  however,  that  many  of  the  circumstances  which  give  variety 
and  spirit  to  a  wild  spot,  might  be  successfully  imitated  in  a  dressed 
place ;  but  it  must  be  done  by  attending  to  the  principles,  not  by  copy- 
ing the  particulars.  It  is  not  necessary  to  model  a  gravel  walk  or  drive 
after  a  sheep  track  or  a  cart  rut,  though  very  useful  hints  may  be  taken 
from  them  both  ;  and  without  having  water-docks  or  thistles  before  one's 
door,  their  effect  in  a  painters  foreground  may  be  produced  by  plants 
that  are  considered  as  ornamental.  I  am  equally  persuaded  that  a 
dressed  appearance  might  be  given  to  one  of  these  lanes,  without  de- 
stroying its  peculiar  and  characteristic  beauties. 

I  have  said  little  of  the  superior  variety  and  effect  of  light  and  shade 
in  scenes  of  this  kind,  as  they  of  course  must  follow  variety  of  forms 
and  of  masses,  and  intricacy  of  disposition.    I  wished  to  avoid  all  de- 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


73 


tail  that  did  not  appear  to  me  necessary  to  explain  or  illustrate  some 
general  principles  ;  but  when  general  principles  are  put  crudely  without 
examples,  they  not  only  are  dry,  but  obscure,  and  make  no  impression. 

There  are  several  ways  in  which  a  spot  of  this  kind  near  a  gentle- 
man's place  would  probably  be  improved  ;  for  even  in  the  monotony  of 
what  is  called  improvement,  there  is  a  variety  of  bad.  Some,  perhaps, 
would  cut  down  the  old  pollards,  clear  the  rubbish,  and  leave  only  the 
maiden  trees  standing ;  some  might  plant  up  the  whole  ;  others  grub 
up  every  thing,  and  make  a  shrubbery  on  each  side  ;  others  put  clumps 
of  shrubs,  or  of  firs  ;  but  there  is  one  improvement  which  I  am  afraid 
almost  all  who  had  not  been  used  to  look  at  objects  with  a  painter's 
eye  would  adopt,  and  which  alone  would  entirely  destroy  its  character — 
that  is  smoothing  and  levelling  the  ground.  The  moment  this  mecha- 
nical commonplace  operation,  by  which  Mr.  Brown  and  his  followers 
have  gained  so  much  credit,  is  begun,  adieu  to  all  that  the  painter  ad- 
mires— to  all  intricacies — to  all  the  beautiful  varieties  of  form,  tint,  and 
light  and  shade  ;  every  deep  recess — every  bold  projection — the  fantas- 
tic roots  of  trees — the  winding  paths  of  sheep — all  must  go  ;  in  a  few 
hours,  the  rash  hand  of  false  taste  completely  demolishes  what  time  only, 
and  a  thousand  lucky  accidents  can  mature,  so  as  to  make  it  become  the 
admiration  and  study  of  a  Ruysdael  or  a  Gainsborough  ;  and  reduces  it 
to  such  a  thing  as  an  oilman  in  Thames  Street  may  at  any  time  contract 
for  by  the  yard  at  Islington  or  Mile-End. 

I  had  lately  an  opportunity  of  observing  the  progress  of  improvement 
in  one  lane,  and  the  effect  of  it  in  another,  both  unfortunately  bordering 
on  gentlemen's  pleasure  grounds.  The  first  had  on  one  side  a  high  bank 
full  of  the  beauties  I  have  described  ;  I  was  particularly  struck  with  a 
beech  which  stood  single  on  one  part  of  it,  and  with  the  effect  and  cha- 
racter which  its  spreading  roots  gave,  both  to  the  bank  and  to  the  tree 
itself :  the  sheep  also  had  made  their  sidelong  paths  to  this  spot,  and 
often  lay  in  the  little  compartments  between  the  roots.  One  day  I 
found  a  great  many  labourers  wheeling  mould  to  this  place ;  by  degrees 
they  filled  up  all  inequalities,  and  completely  covered  the  roots  and 
pathways  ;  one  would  have  supposed  they  were  working  for  my  Uncle 
Toby,  under  the  direction  of  Corporal  Trim,  for  they  had  converted  this 
varied  bank  into  a  perfect  glacis,  only  the  gazons  were  omitted.  They 
had,  however,  worked  up  the  mould  they  had  wheeled  into  a  sort  of 
a  mortar,  and  had  laid  it  as  smooth  from  top  to  bottom  as  a  mason  could 
have  done  with  his  trowel.  From  the  number  of  men  employed,  the 
quantity  of  earth  wheeled,  and  the  nicety  with  which  this  operation  was 
performed,  I  am  persuaded  it  was,  in  a  great  measure,  done  for  the  sake 


74 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


of  beauty.  Those  worthy  pioneers,  their  employment,  and  their  em- 
ployers, are  very  aptly  described  in  two  verses  of  Tasso,  and  especially 
if  the  word  guast atari*  be  taken  in  its  most  obvious  sense  : 

Inanzi  i  guastatori  avea  mandati, 

I  vuoti  luoglii  cmpir1,  et  spianar  gli  erti. 

This  is  a  most  complete  receipt  for  spoiling  a  picturesque  spot ;  and  one 
might  suppose,  from  this  military  style  having  been  so  generally  adopted, 
and  every  thing  laid  open,  that  our  improvers  are  fearful  of  an  enemy 
being  in  ambuscade  among  the  bushes  of  a  gravel  pit,  or  lurking  in  some 
intricate  group  of  trees.  In  that  respect,  it  must  be  owned,  the  clump 
has  infinite  merit  ;  for  it  may  be  reconnoitred  from  every  point,  and 
seen  through  in  every  direction. 

The  improved  part  of  the  other  lane  I  never  saw  in  its  original  state  ; 
but  by  what  remains  untouched,  and  by  the  accounts  I  heard,  it  must 
have  afforded  noble  studies  for  a  painter.  The  banks  are  higher  and 
the  trees  arc  larger  than  in  the  other  lane,  and  their  branches,  stretch- 
ing from  side  to  side, 

"  High  over  arch'd  embower." 

I  heard  a  vast  deal  from  the  gardener  of  the  place  near  it,  about  the 
large  ugly  roots  that  appeared  above  ground,  the  large  holes  the  sheep 
used  to  lie  in,  and  the  rubbish  of  all  kinds  that  used  to  grow  about 
them.  The  last  possessor  took  care  to  fill  up  and  clean,  as  far  as  his 
property  went ;  and,  that  every  thing  might  look  regular,  he  put,  as  a 
boundary  to  the  road,  a  row  of  white  pales  at  the  foot  of  the  bank  on 
(Mic  h  side,  and  on  that  next  his  house  he  raised  a  peat  wall  as  upright 
as  it  could  well  stand,  by  way  of  a  facing  to  the  old  bank,  and  in  the 
middle  of  this  peat  wall,  planted  a  row  of  laurels  :  this  row  the  gar- 
dener used  to  cut  quite  flat  at  top,  and  the  cattle  reaching  over  the 
pales,  and  browsing  the  lower  shoots  within  their  bite,  kept  it  as  even 
at  bottom  ;  so  that  it  formed  one  projecting  lump  in  the  middle,  and 
had  just  as  picturesque  an  appearance  as  a  bushy  wig  squeezed  between 
the  hat  and  the  cape.  I  should  add,  that  these  two  specimens  of  dressed 
lanes  are  not  in  a  distant  county,  but  within  thirty  miles  of  London, 
and  in  a  district  full  of  expensive  embellishments. 

I  am  afraid  many  of  my  readers  will  think  that  I  have  been  a  long 
while  getting  through  these  lanes  ;  but  in  them,  in  old  quarries,  and  long 
neglected  chalk  and  gravel  pits,  a  great  deal  of  what  constitutes,  and 


*  Spoilers. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


75 


what  destroys  picturesque  beauty,  is  strongly  exemplified  within  a  small 
compass,  and  in  spots  easily  resorted  to  ;  the  causes,  too,  are  as  clearly 
marked,  and  may  be  as  successfully  studied,  as  where  the  higher  styles 
of  it,  often  mixed  with  the  sublime,  are  displayed  among  forests,  rocks, 
and  mountains. 

QThere  is  no  doubt  that,  with  all  one's  love  for  the  picturesque  in 
roads,  it  must  be  admitted,  that  the  convenience  and  comfort  of  travel- 
ling smoothly  over  them  at  all  times  is  not  only  to  be  highly  appreciated, 
but  it  is  to  be  considered  as  an  essential  ingredient  in  human  happiness  ; 
and  if  there  be  any  situation  where  this  necessary  of  life  is  more  to  be 
desired  in  perfection  than  another,  it  is  when  we  are  approaching  a 
friend's  house  in  the  country  through  its  surrounding  grounds.  The 
smoothness  of  the  surface  of  the  road  over  which  your  carriage  bowls  on 
its  way  up  to  the  portal  of  the  mansion,  feels  like  a  sort  of  guarantee  for 
that  easy  hospitality  which  you  are  to  enjoy  when  you  are  fairly  under 
his  roof ;  whilst,  on  the  other  hand,  the  host  who  gives  you,  perhaps,  a 
mile  or  more  of  rough,  troublesome,  or  dangerous  driving  before  you  can 
reach  his  door,  seems  to  give  you  a  hint,  in  pretty  plain  language,  that  he 
should  not  be  at  all  sorry  if  the  breaking  of  your  springs,  the  overturn  of 
your  carriage,  and,  perhaps,  the  consequent  fracture  of  your  ribs  or  limbs, 
should  arrest  your  progress,  and  save  him  from  your  company.  Then, 
much  as  I  have  always  enjoyed  a  scramble  along  some  mountain  side,  or 
through  some  rough  pathless  forest,  or  rocky  dingle,  I  have  ever  felt  that 
all  drives  or  walks  which  are  intended  to  develop  the  beauties  of  the 
parks  or  pleasure  grounds,  should  be  of  the  best  and  smoothest  possible 
composition  of  surface,  so  that  the  fair  and  delicate  occupants  of  the 
open  carriage  or  pony  phaeton,  may  enjoy  every  scene  with  the  same 
ease  and  tranquillity  as  the  hardier  equestrians  or  pedestrians  of  the 
party.  At  the  same  time,  it  is  quite  possible  so  to  manage  the  edges 
of  such  pleasure  roads  as  not  to  offend  the  picturesque  eye.  Near  the 
house,  we  hold,  that  they  must  partake  of  that  polish — that  architectu- 
ral harmony — that  apparent  care,  and  even  expense,  which  gratifies  our 
eyes  in  the  mansion  itself,  both  without  and  within  doors.  But  as  the 
gay  confusion  of  gorgeous  and  tasteful  furniture  gives  us  more  pleasure 
in  the  apartments,  than  their  meagre  walls  would  do  without  it,  how- 
ever splendidly  they  may  be  painted  or  covered,  so  I  conceive  that  the 
accessaries  of  happily  chosen  shrubs  and  plants  of  the  rarer  yet  most 
picturesque  kinds,  starting  in  profusion  out  of  the  turf  in  well  disposed 
groups,  and  combining  gracefully  with  the  statues,  balustrades,  vases,  and 
other  architectural  features  belonging  to  the  house,  produce  an  intricacy 


Silt  U  V  ED  ALE  PRICE 


infinitely  more  pleasing  than  that  bareness  which  we  too  often  see  ac- 
companying the  approach  up  to  the  very  door.  With  a  due  considera- 
tion for  the  beauty  of  fitness,  this  is  all  that  the  most  fastidious  artist  can 
demand  lor  the  immediate  home  part  or  central  terminus  of  the  pleasure 
roads.  As  they  begin  to  steal  away  from  the  vicinity  of  the  mansion, 
the  same  effect  must  he  produced,  yet  with  a  due  attention  to  circum- 
stances ;  and  the  groups  must  not  only  be  of  greater  magnitude,  but 
they  must  he  composed  of  plants  and  shrubs  of  larger  growth  and  of 
wilder  character,  such  as  thorns,  hollies,  yews,  &c,  which  always  mingle 
well  in  composition  with  the  taller  and  wider  spreading  trees.  And 
then  when  the  road  has  carried  us  into  the  denser  woodlands,  we  should 
begin  to  find  the  edges  of  it  broken  and  irregular,  so  as  to  be  in  perfect 
harmony  with  that  nature  which  ought  now  to  be  found  luxuriating  all 
around  us,  to  the  wildness  of  which  art  may  be  allowed  to  add  every 
charm  that  may  be  given  without  the  appearance  of  design,  but  where 
it  must  never  obtrude  any  thing  that  can  possibly  betray  its  presence. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


77 


CHAPTER  III. 

There  are  few  words  whose  meaning  has  been  less  accurately  deter- 
mined than  that  of  the  word  picturesque. 

In  general,  I  believe,  it  is  applied  to  every  object,  and  every  kind  of 
scenery,  which  has  been  or  might  be  represented  with  good  effect  in 
painting — just  as  the  word  beautiful,  when  we  speak  of  visible  nature, 
is  applied  to  every  object  and  every  kind  of  scenery  that  in  any  way 
give  pleasure  to  the  eye — and  these  seem  to  be  the  significations  of  both 
words,  taken  in  their  most  extended  and  popular  sense.  A  more  pre- 
cise  and  distinct  idea  of  beauty  has  been  given  in  an  essay,  the  early 
splendour  of  which  not  even  the  full  meridian  blaze  of  its  illustrious 
author  has  been  able  to  extinguish  ;  but  the  picturesque,  considered  as 
a  separate  character,  has  never  yet  been  accurately  distinguished  from 
the  sublime  and  the  beautiful ;  though  as  no  one  has  ever  pretended 
that  they  are  synonymous,  (for  it  is  sometimes  used  in  contradistinction 
to  them,)  such  a  distinction  must  exist. 

Mr.  Gilpin,  from  whose  very  ingenious  and  extensive  observations 
<>n  this  subject  I  have  received  great  pleasure  and  instruction,  appears 


78 


SIR  UVKDALK  PRICE 


to  have  adopted  this  common  acceptation,  not  merely  as  such,  but  as 
giving  an  exact  and  determinate  idea  of  the  word  ;  for  he  defines  pic- 
turesque  objects  to  be  those  "  which  please  from  some  quality  capable 
of  being  illustrated  in  painting;"*  or,  as  he  again  defines  it  in  his  Let- 
ter to  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  "  such  objects  as  are  proper  subjects  for 
painting."t  Both  these  definitions  seem  to  me — what  may  perhaps 
appear  a  contradiction — at  once  too  vague  and  too  confined  ;  for  though 
we  are  not  to  expect  any  definition  to  be  so  accurate  and  comprehensive 
as  both  to  supply  the  place  and  stand  the  test  of  investigation,  yet  if 
it  do  not  in  some  degree  separate  the  thing  defined  from  all  others,  it 
differs  little  from  any  general  truth  on  the  same  subject.  For  instance, 
it  is  very  true  that  picturesque  objects  do  please  from  some  quality 
capable  of  being  illustrated  in  painting;  but  so  also  does  every  object 
that  is  represented  in  painting  if  it  please  at  all,  otherwise  it  would  not 
have  been  painted ;  and  hence  we  ought  to  conclude,  what  certainly  is 
not  meant,  that  all  objects  which  please  in  pictures  are  therefore  pic- 
turesque— for  no  distinction  or  exclusion  is  made.  Were  any  other 
person  to  define  picturesque  objects  to  be  those  which  please  from  some 
striking  effect  of  form,  colour,  or  light  and  shadow — such  a  definition 
would  indeed  give  but  a  very  indistinct  idea  of  the  thing  defined ;  but 
it  would  be  hardly  more  vague,  and  at  the  same  time  much  less  confined 
than  the  others,  for  it  would  not  have  an  exclusive  reference  to  a  parti- 
cular art. 

I  hope  to  show  in  the  course  of  this  work,  that  the  picturesque  has  a 
character  not  less  separate  and  distinct  than  either  the  sublime  or  the 
b  butiful,  nor  less  independent  of  the  art  of  painting.  It  has  indeed 
been  pointed  out  and  illustrated  by  that  art,  and  is  one  of  its  most  strik- 
ing ornaments  ;  but  has  not  beauty  been  pointed  out  and  illustrated  by 
that  art  also,  nay,  according  to  the  poet,  brought  into  existence  by  it  ? 

Si  Venerem  Cous  nunquam  posuisset  Apelles, 
Mersa  sub  aequoreis  ilia  lateret  aquis. 

Examine  the  forms  of  the  early  Italian  painters,  or  of  those  who,  at 
a  later  period,  lived  where  the  study  of  the  antique,  then  fully  operat- 
ing at  Rome  on  minds  highly  prepared  for  its  influence,  had  not  yet 
taught  them  to  separate  what  is  beautiful,  from  the  general  mass  :  you 
might  almost  conclude  that  beauty  did  not  then  exist ;  yet  those  paint- 
ers were  capable  of  exact  imitation,  though  not  of  selection.  Examine 


*  Essay  on  Picturesque  Beauty,  p.  1. 

-(-  End  of  Essay  on  Picturesque  Beauty,  p.  36. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


79 


grandeur  of  form  iu  the  same  manner  ;  look  at  the  dry  meagre  forms 
of  Albert  Durer — a  man  of  genius  even  in  Raphael's  estimation — of 
Pietro  Perugino,  Andrea  Mantegna,  &c,  and  compare  them  with  those 
of  M.  Angelo  and  Raphael :  nature  was  not  more  dry  and  meagre  in 
Germany  or  Perugia  than  at  Rome.  Compare  their  landscapes  and  back 
grounds  with  those  of  Titian  ;  nature  was  not  changed,  but  a  mind  of  a 
higher  cast,  and  instructed  by  the  experience  of  all  who  had  gone  before, 
rejected  minute  detail ;  and  pointed  out,  by  means  of  such  selections,  and 
such  combinations  as  were  congenial  to  its  own  sublime  conceptions,  in 
what  forms,  in  what  colours,  and  in  what  effects,  grandeur  in  landscape 
consisted.  Can  it  then  be  doubted  that  grandeur  and  beauty  have  been 
pointed  out  and  illustrated  by  painting  as  well  as  picturesqueness  ?  * 
Yet,  would  it  be  a  just  definition  of  sublime  or  of  beautiful  objects,  to 
say  that  they  were  such  (and,  let  the  words  be  taken  in  their  most 
liberal  construction)  as  pleased  from  some  quality  capable  of  h&ing 
illustrated  in  painting,  or,  that  were  proper  subjects  for  that  art  ? 
The  ancients,  indeed,  not  only  referred  beauty  of  form  to  painting,  but 
even  beauty  of  colour  ;  and  the  poet  who  could  describe  his  mistress's 
complexion  by  comparing  it  to  the  tints  of  Apelles's  pictures,  must  have 
thought  that  beauty  of  every  kind  was  highly  illustrated  by  the  art  to 
which  he  referred. 

The  principles  of  those  two  leading  characters  in  nature — the  sublime 
and  the  beautiful — have  been  fully  illustrated  and  discriminated  by  a 
great  master ;  but  even  when  I  first  read  that  most  original  work,  I 
felt  that  there  were  numberless  objects  which  give  great  delight  to  the 
eye,  and  yet  differ  as  widely  from  the  beautiful  as  from  the  sublime. 
The  reflections  which  I  have  since  been  led  to  make,  have  convinced 
me  that  these  objects  form  a  distinct  class,  and  belong  to  what  may 
properly  be  called  the  picturesque. 

That  term,  as  we  may  judge  from  its  etymology,  is  applied  only  to 
objects  of  sight ;  and,  indeed,  in  so  confined  a  manner  as  to  be  sup- 
posed merely  to  have  a  reference  to  the  art  from  which  it  is  named.  I 
am  well  convinced,  however,  that  the  name  and  reference  only  are 
limited  and  uncertain,  and  that  the  qualities  which  make  objects  pic- 
turesque, are  not  only  as  distinct  as  those  which  make  them  beautiful 
or  sublime,  but  are  equally  extended  to  all  our  sensations  by  whatever 
organs  they  are  received  ;  and  that  music — though  it  appears  like  a 


*  I  have  ventured  to  make  use  of  this  word,  which  I  believe  does  not  occur  in  any 
writer,  from  what  appeared  to  me  the  necessity  of  having  some  one  word  to  oppose 
to  beauty  and  sublimity,  in  a  work  where  they  are  so  often  compared. 


cSO 


SIR  U  V  ED  ALE  PRICE 


solecism — may  be  as  truly  picturesque,  according  to  the  general  prin- 
ciples of  picturesqueness,  as  it  may  be  beautiful  or  sublime,  according 
to  those  of  beauty  or  sublimity. 

But  there  is  one  circumstance  particularly  adverse  to  this  part  of  my 
essay  :  I  mean  the  manifest  derivation  of  the  word  picturesque.  The 
Italian  pittoresco  is,  I  imagine,  of  earlier  date  than  either  the  English 
or  the  French  word,  the  latter  of  which,  pittoresque,  is  clearly  taken 
from  it,  having  no  analogy  to  its  own  tongue.  Pittoresco  is  derived, 
not  like  picturesque,  from  the  thing  painted,  but  from  the  painter ;  and 
this  difference  is  not  wholly  immaterial.  The  English  word  refers  to 
the  performance,  and  the  objects  most  suited  to  it :  the  Italian  and 
French  words  have  a  reference  to  the  turn  of  mind  common  to  painters  ; 
who,  from  the  constant  habit  of  examining  all  the  peculiar  effects  and 
combinations,  as  well  as  the  general  appearance  of  nature,  are  struck 
with  numberless  circumstances,  even  where  they  are  incapable  of  being 
represented,  to  which  an  unpractised  eye  pays  little  or  no  attention. 
The  English  word  naturally  draws  the  reader's  mind  towards  pictures ; 
and  from  that  partial  and  confined  view  of  the  subject,  what  is  in  truth 
only  an  illustration  of  picturesqueness,  becomes  the  foundation  of  it. 
The  words  sublime  and  beautiful  have  not  the  same  etymological  refer- 
ence to  any  one  visible  art,  and  therefore  are  applied  to  objects  of  the 
other  senses  :  sublime,  indeed,  in  the  language  from  which  it  is  taken, 
and  in  its  plain  sense,  means  high ;  and  therefore,  perhaps,  in  strict- 
ness, should  relate  to  objects  of  sight  only ;  yet  we  no  more  scruple  to 
call  one  of  Handel's  chorusses  sublime,  than  Corelli's  famous  pastorale 
beautiful.  But  should  any  person  simply,  and  without  any  qualifying 
expressions,  call  a  capricious  movement  of  Scarlatti  or  Haydn  pictu- 
resque, he  would,  with  great  reason,  be  laughed  at,  for  it  is  not  a  term 
applied  to  sounds ;  yet  such  a  movement,  from  its  sudden,  unexpected, 
and  abrupt  transitions — from  a  certain  playful  wildness  of  character 
and  appearance  of  irregularity,  is  no  less  analogous  to  similar  scenery 
in  nature,  than  the  concerto  or  the  chorus,  to  what  is  grand  or  beauti- 
ful to  the  eye. 

There  is,  indeed,  a  general  harmony  and  correspondence  in  all  our 
sensations  when  they  arise  from  similar  causes,  though  they  affect  us  by 
means  of  different  senses;  and  these  causes,  as  Mr.  Burke  has  admir- 
ably pointed  out,*  can  never  be  so  clearly  ascertained  when  we  confine 
our  observations  to  one  sense  only. 

I  must  here  observe,  and  I  wish  the  reader  to  keep  it  in  his  mind, 


*  Sublime  and  Beautiful,  p.  236. 


OX  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


81 


that  the  inquiry  is  not  in  what  sense  certain  words  are  used  in  the  best 
authors,  still  less  what  is  their  common,  and  vulgar  use,  and  abuse ;  but 
whether  there  be  certain  qualities,  which  uniformly  produce  the  same 
effects  in  all  visible  objects,  and,  according  to  the  same  analogy,  in 
objects  of  hearing  and  of  all  the  other  senses ;  and  which  qualities, 
though  frequently  blended  and  united  with  others  in  the  same  object  or 
set  of  objects,  may  be  separated  from  them,  and  assigned  to  the  class  to 
which  they  belong. 

If  it  can  be  shown  that  a  character  composed  of  these  qualities,  and 
distinct  from  all  others,  does  universally  prevail ;  if  it  can  be  traced  in 
the  different  objects  of  art  and  of  nature,  and  appears  consistent  through- 
out, it  surely  deserves  a  distinct  title ;  but,  with  respect  to  the  real 
ground  of  inquiry,  it  matters  little  whether  such  a  character,  or  the  set 
of  objects  belonging  to  it,  be  called  beautiful,  sublime,  or  picturesque, 
or  by  any  other  name,  or  by  no  name  at  all. 

Beauty  is  so  much  the  most  enchanting  and  popular  quality,  that  it 
is  often  applied  as  the  highest  commendation  to  whatever  gives  us 
pleasure,  or  raises  our  admiration,  be  the  cause  what  it  will.  Mr, 
Burke  has  given  several  instances  of  these  ill-judged  applications,  and 
of  the  confusion  of  ideas  which  result  from  them  ;  but  there  is  nothing 
more  ill-judged,  or  more  likely  to  create  confusion,  if  we  at  all  agree 
with  Mr.  Burke  in  his  idea  of  beauty,  than  the  mode  which  prevails  of 
joining  together  two  words  of  a  different,  and  in  some  respects  of  an 
opposite  meaning,  and  calling  the  character  by  the  title  of  Picturesque 
Beauty. 

I  must  observe,  however,  that  I  by  no  means  object  to  the  expres- 
sion itself ;  I  only  object  to  it  as  a  general  term  for  the  character,  and 
as  comprehending  every  kind  of  scenery,  and  every  set  of  objects  which 
look  well  in  a  picture.  That  is  the  sense,  as  far  as  I  have  observed,  in 
which  it  is  very  commonly  used ;  consequently,  an  old  hovel,  an  old 
cart-horse,  or  an  old  woman,  are  often,  in  that  sense,  full  of  picturesque 
beauty  ;  and  certainly  the  application  of  the  last  term  to  such  objects, 
must  tend  to  confuse  our  ideas  :  but  were  the  expression  restrained  to 
those  objects  only,  in  which  the  picturesque  and  the  beautiful  are  mixed 
together,  and  so  mixed  that  the  result,  according  to  common  apprehen- 
sion, is  beautiful  ;  and  were  it  never  used  when  the  picturesque — as  it 
no  less  frequently  happens — is  mixed  solely  with  what  is  terrible,  ugly, 
or  deformed,  I  should  highly  approve  of  the  expression,  and  wish  for 
more  distinctions  of  the  same  kind. 

In  reality,  the  picturesque  not  only  differs  from  the  beautiful  in  those 
qualities  which  Mr.  Burke  has  so  justly  ascribed  to  it,  but  arises  from 
qualities  the  most  diametrically  opposite. 

F 


SIR  UVKDALK  PIUCE 


According  to  Mr.  Burke,  one  of  the  most  essential  qualities  of  beauty 
is  smoothness  ;  now,  as  the  perfection  of  smoothness  is  absolute  equality 
and  uniformity  of  surface,  wherever  that  prevails  there  can  be  but  little 
variety  or  intricacy;  as,  for  instance,  in  smooth  level  banks,  on  a  small, 
or  in  open  downs,  on  a  large  scale.  Another  essential  quality  of  beauty 
is  gradual  variation  ;  that  is — to  make  use  of  Mr.  Burke's  expression — 
w  here  the  lines  do  not  vary  in  a  sudden  and  broken  manner,  and  where 
there  is  no  sudden  protuberance :  it  requires  but  little  reflection  to  per- 
ceive,  that  the  exclusion  of  all  but  flowing  lines  cannot  promote  variety ; 
and  that  sudden  protuberances,  and  lines  that  cross  each  other  in  a 
sudden  and  broken  manner,  are  among  the  most  fruitful  causes  of 
intricacy. 

I  am  therefore  persuaded,  that  the  two  opposite  qualities  of  roughness,* 
and  of  sudden  variation,  joined  to  that  of  irregularity,  are  the  most 
efficient  causes  of  the  picturesque. 

This,  I  think,  will  appear  very  clearly,  if  we  take  a  view  of  those 
objects,  both  natural  and  artificial,  that  are  allowed  to  be  picturesque, 
and  compare  them  with  those  which  are  as  generally  allowed  to  be 
beautiful. 

A  temple  or  palace  of  Grecian  architecture  in  its  perfect  entire  state, 
and  with  its  surface  and  colour  smooth  and  even,  either  in  painting  or 
reality,  is  beautiful ;  in  ruin  it  is  picturesque.  Observe  the  process  by 
which  Time,  the  great  author  of  such  changes,  converts  a  beautiful  object 
into  a  picturesque  one  :  First,  by  means  of  weather  stains,  partial  in- 
crustations, mosses,  &c.  it  at  the  same  time  takes  off'  from  the  uniformity 
of  the  surface,  and  of  the  colour ;  that  is,  gives  a  degree  of  roughness, 
and  variety  of  tint.  Next,  the  various  accidents  of  weather  loosen  the 
stones  themselves ;  they  tumble  in  irregular  masses  upon  what  was 
perhaps  smooth  turf  or  pavement,  or  nicely-trimmed  walks  and  shrub- 
beries— now  mixed  and  overgrown  with  wild  plants  and  creepers,  that 
crawl  over,  and  shoot  among  the  fallen  ruins.  Sedums,  wall-flowers, 
and  other  vegetables  that  bear  drought,  find  nourishment  in  the  decayed 
cement  from  which  the  stones  have  been  detached  ;  birds  convey  their 
food  into  the  chinks,  and  yew,  elder,  and  other  berried  plants  project 
from  the  sides  ;  while  the  ivy  mantles  over  other  parts,  and  crowns  the 


*  I  have  followed  Mr.  Gilpin's  example  in  using  roughness  as  a  general  term.  He 
observes,  however,  that,  "  properly  speaking,  roughness  relates  only  to  the  surface  of 
bodies  ;  and  that  when  we  speak  of  their  delineation,  we  use  the  word  ruggedness." 
In  making  roughness,  in  this  general  sense,  a  very  principal  distinction  between  the 
beautiful  and  the  picturesque,  I  believe  I  am  supported  by  the  general  opinion  of  all 
who  have  considered  the  subject,  as  well  as  by  Mr.  Gilpin's  authority. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


83 


top.    The  even,  regular  lines  of  the  doors  and  windows  are  broken, 
:ui'l  through  their  ivy-fringed  openings  is  displayed,  in  a  more  broken 
and  picturesque  manner,  that  striking  image  in  Virgil, 
"  Apparet  domus  intus,  et  atria  longa  patescunt ; 
Apparent  Priami  et  veterum  penetralia  regum." 

Gothic  architecture  is  generally  considered  as  more  picturesque,  though 
less  beautiful,  than  Grecian  ;  and  upon  the  same  principle  that  a  ruin  is 
more  so  than  a  new  edifice.  The  first  thing  that  strikes  the  eye  in  ap- 
proaching any  building,  is  the  general  outline,  and  the  effect  of  the  open- 
ings. In  Grecian  buildings,  the  general  lines  of  the  roof  are  straight ; 
and  even  when  varied  and  adorned  by  a  dome  or  a  pediment,  the 
whole  has  a  character  of  symmetry  and  regularity.  But  symmetry, 
which  in  works  of  art  particularly  accords  with  the  beautiful,  is  in  the 
same  degree  adverse  to  the  picturesque  ;  and  among  the  various  causes 
of  the  superior  picturesqueness  of  ruins,  compared  with  entire  buildings, 
the  destruction  of  symmetry  is  by  no  means  the  least  powerful. 

In  Gothic  buildings,  the  outline  of  the  summit  presents  such  a  variety 
of  forms,  of  turrets  and  pinnacles,  some  open,  some  fretted  and  variously 
enriched,  that  even  where  there  is  an  exact  correspondence  of  parts,  it 
is  often  disguised  by  an  appearance  of  splendid  confusion  and  irregularity. 
There  is  a  line  in  Dryden's  Palamon  and  Arcite,  which  might  be  inter- 
preted according  to  this  idea,  though  I  do  not  suppose  he  intended  to 
convey  any  such  meaning — 

"  And  all  appeared  irregularly  great." 

In  the  doors  and  windows  of  Gothic  churches,  the  pointed  arch  has  as 
much  variety  as  any  regular  figure  can  well  have  ;  the  eye,  too,  is  less 
strongly  conducted  than  by  the  parallel  lines  in  the  Grecian  style,  from 
the  top  of  one  aperture  to  that  of  another  ;  and  every  person  must  be 
struck  with  the  extreme  richness  and  intricacy  of  some  of  the  principal 
windows  of  our  cathedrals  and  ruined  abbeys.  In  these  last  is  displayed 
the  triumph  of  the  picturesque  ;  and  their  charms  to  a  painter's  eye  are 
often  so  great,  as  to  rival  those  which  arise  from  the  chaste  ornaments, 
and  the  noble  and  elegant  simplicity  of  Grecian  architecture. 

Some  people  may,  perhaps,  be  unwilling  to  allow,  that  in  ruins  of 
Grecian  and  Gothic  architecture,  any  considerable  part  of  the  specta- 
tor's pleasure  arises  from  the  picturesque  circumstances  ;  and  may  choose 
to  attribute  the  whole,  to  what  may  justly  claim  a  great  share  in  that 
plcasuro — the  elegance  or  grandeur  of  their  forms — the  veneration  of 
high  antiquity — or  the  solemnity  of  religious  awe  ;  in  a  word,  to  the 
mixture  of  the  two  other  characters.    But  were  this  true,  yet  there  are 


84 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


many  buildings,  highly  interesting  to  all  who  have  united  the  study  of 
art  with  that  of  nature,  in  which  beauty  and  grandeur  are  equally  out 
of  the  question — such  as  hovels,  cottages,  mills,  insides  of  old  barns, 
stables,  &c.  whenever  they  have  any  marked  and  peculiar  effect  of  form, 
tint,  or  light  and  shadow.  In  mills  particularly,  such  is  the  extreme  in- 
tricacy of  the  wheels  and  the  wood  work — such  the  singular  variety  of 
forms  and  of  lights  and  shadows,  of  mosses  and  weather  stains  from  the 
constant  moisture,  of  plants  springing  from  the  rough  joints  of  the  stones 
— such  the  assemblage  of  every  thing  which  most  conduces  to  pictures- 
queness,  that,  even  without  the  addition  of  water,  an  old  mill  has  the 
greatest  charm  for  a  painter. 

It  is  owing  to  the  same  causes,  that  a  building  with  scaffolding  has 
often  a  more  picturesque  appearance,  than  the  building  itself  when  the 
scaffolding  is  taken  away ;  that  old,  mossy,  rough-hewn  park  pales  of 
unequal  heights  are  an  ornament  to  landscape,  especially  when  they  are 
partially  concealed  by  thickets,  while  a  neat  post  and  rail,  regularly  con- 
tinued round  a  field,  and  seen  without  any  interruption,  is  one  of  the 
most  unpicturesque,  as  being  one  of  the  most  uniform,  of  all  boundaries. 

But  among  all  the  objects  of  nature,  there  is  none  in  which  roughness 
and  smoothness  more  strongly  mark  the  distinction  between  the  two 
characters,  than  in  water.  A  calm,  clear  lake,  with  the  reflections  of  all 
that  surrounds  it,  viewed  under  the  influence  of  a  setting  sun,  at  the 
close  of  an  evening  clear  and  serene  as  its  own  surface,  is  perhaps,  of 
all  scenes,  the. most  congenial  to  our  ideas  of  beauty  in  its  strictest,  and 
in  its  most  general  acceptation. 

Xay,  though  the  scenery  around  should  be  the  most  wild  and  pictu- 
resque— I  might  almost  say  the  most  savage — every  thing  is  so  softened 
and  melted  together  by  the  reflection  of  such  a  mirror,  that  the  prevail- 
ing idea,  even  then,  might  possibly  be  that  of  beauty,  so  long  as  the 
water  itself  was  chiefly  regarded.  On  the  other  hand,  all  water  of  which 
the  surface  is  broken,  and  the  motion  abrupt  and  irregular,  as  univer- 
sally accords  with  our  ideas  of  the  picturesque  ;  and  whenever  the  word 
is  mentioned,  rapid  and  stony  torrents  and  waterfalls,  and  waves  dash- 
ing against  rocks,  are  among  the  first  objects  that  present  themselves  to 
our  imagination.  The  two  characters  also  approach  and  balance  each 
other,  as  roughness  or  smoothness,  as  gentle  undulation  or  abruptness 
prevail. 

Among  trees,  it  is  not  the  smooth  young  beech  nor  the  fresh  and 
tender  ash,  but  the  rugged  old  oak  or  knotty  wych  elm  that  are  pictu- 
resque ;  nor  is  it  necessary  they  should  be  of  great  bulk — it  is  sufficient 
if  they  are  rough,  mossy,  with  a  character  of  age,  and  with  sudden 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


85 


variations  in  their  forms.  The  limbs  of  huge  trees  shattered  by  light- 
ning or  tempestuous  winds,  are  in  the  highest  degree  picturesque ;  but 
whatever  is  caused  by  those  dreaded  powers  of  destruction,  must  always 
have  a  tincture  of  the  sublime. 

There  is  a  simile  in  Ariosto  in  which  the  two  characters  are  finely 
united : — 

"  Quale  stordito,  e  stupido  aratore, 
Poi  ch'e  passato  il  fulmine,  si  leva 
Di  la,  dove  Paltissimo  fragore 
Presso  agli  uccisi  buoi  steso  Taveva  ; 
Che  mira  sensa  fronde,  et  senza  onore, 
II  Pin  che  da  lontan  veder  soleva, 
Tal  si  levo'l  Pagano.1' 

Milton  seems  to  have  thought  of  this  simile,  but  the  sublimity  both  of 
his  subject  and  of  his  own  genius,  made  him  reject  those  picturesque 
circumstances,  the  variety  of  which,  while  it  amuses,  distracts  the  mind, 
and  has  kept  it  fixed  on  a  few  grand  and  awful  images : — 

"As  when  heaven's  fire 
Has  scathed  the  forest  oaks  or  mountain  pines, 
With  singed  top  their  stately  growth,  though  bare, 
Stands  on  the  blasted  heath. " 

If  we  next  take  a  view  of  those  animals  that  are  called  picturesque, 
the  same  qualities  will  be  found  to  prevail.  The  ass  is  generally  thought 
to  be  more  picturesque  than  the  horse ;  and  among  horses,  it  is  the 
wild  and  rough  forester,  or  the  worn-out  cart-horse  to  which  that  title 
is  applied.  The  sleek  pampered  steed,  with  his  high  arched  crest  and 
flowing  mane,  is  frequently  represented  in  painting ;  but  his  prevailing 
character,  whether  there  or  in  reality,  is  that  of  beauty. 

In  pursuing  the  same  mode  of  inquiry  with  respect  to  other  animals, 
we  find  that  the  Pomeranian  and  the  rough  water-dog  are  more  pic- 
turesque than  the  smooth  spaniel  or  the  greyhound,  the  shaggy  goat 
than  the  sheep ;  and  these  last  are  more  so  when  their  fleeces  are  ragged 
and  worn  away  in  parts,  than  when  they  are  of  equal  thickness,  or 
when  they  have  lately  been  shorn.  No  animal,  indeed,  is  so  constantly 
introduced  in  landscape  as  the  sheep,  but  that,  as  I  observed  before, 
does  not  prove  superior  picturesqueness ;  and  I  imagine,  that,  besides 
their  innocent  character,  so  suited  to  pastoral  scenes,  of  which  they  are 
the  natural  inhabitants,  it  arises  from  their  being  of  a  tint  at  once 
brilliant  and  mellow,  which  unites  happily  with  all  objects ;  and  also 
from  their  producing,  when  in  groups,  however  slightly  the  detail  may 


80 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


be  expressed,  broader  masses  of  light  and  shadow  than  any  other  animal. 
The  reverse  of  this  is  true  with  regard  to  deer ;  their  general  effect  in 
groups  is  comparatively  meagre  and  spotty,  hut  their  wild  appearance, 
their  lively  action,  their  sudden  bounds,  and  the  intricacy  of  their 
branching  horns,  are  circumstances  in  the  highest  degree  picturesque. 

Wild  and  savage  animals,  like  scenes  of  the  same  description,  have 
generally  a  marked  and  picturesque  character;  and,  as  such  scenes 
are  less  strongly  impressed  with  that  character  when  all  is  calm  and 
serene  than  when  the  clouds  are  agitated  and  variously  tossed  about, 
so  whatever  may  be  the  appearance  of  any  animal  in  a  tranquil  state, 
it  becomes  more  picturesque  when  suddenly  altered  by  the  influence  of 
some  violent  emotion ;  and  it  is  curious  to  observe  how  all  that  disturbs 
inward  calm  produces  a  correspondent  roughness  without.  The  bristles 
of  the  chafed  and  foaming  boar — the  quills  on  the  fretful  porcupine — 
are  suddenly  raised  by  sudden  emotion,  and  the  angry  lion  exhibits  the 
same  picturesque  marks  of  rage  and  fierceness, 

It  is  true,  that  in  all  animals  where  great  strength  and  destructive 
fierceness  are  united,  there  is  a  mixture  of  grandeur,  but  the  principles 
on  which  a  greater  or  lesser  degree  of  picturesqueness  is  founded  may 
clearly  be  distinguished ;  the  lion,  for  instance,  with  his  shaggy  mane, 
is  much  more  picturesque  than  the  lioness,  though  she  is  equally  an 
object  of  terror. 

The  effect  of  smoothness  or  roughness  in  producing  the  beautiful  or 
the  picturesque,  is  again  clearly  exemplified  in  birds.  Nothing  is  more 
truly  consonant  to  our  ideas  of  beauty,  than  their  plumage  when  smooth 
and  undisturbed,  and  when  the  eye  glides  over  it  without  interruption ; 
nothing,  on  the  other  hand,  has  so  picturesque  an  appearance  as  their 
feathers,  when  ruffled  by  any  accidental  circumstance,  or  by  any  sudden 
passion  in  the  animal.  When  inflamed  with  anger  or  with  desire,  the 
first  symptoms  appear  in  their  ruffled  plumage ;  the  game  cock,  when 
he  attacks  his  rival,  raises  the  feathers  of  his  neck,  the  purple  pheasant 
his  crest,  and  the  peacock,  when  he  feels  the  return  of  spring,  shows 
his  passion  in  the  same  manner — 

"  And  every  feather  shivers  with  delight/' 

The  picturesque  character  in  birds  of  prey  arises  from  the  angular 
form  of  their  beak,  the  rough  feathers  on  their  legs,  their  crooked 
talons,  their  action  and  energy.  All  these  circumstances  are  in  the 
strongest  degree  apparent  in  the  eagle ;  but,  from  his  size  as  well  as 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


87 


courage,  from  the  force  of  his  beak  and  talons,  formidable  even  to  man, 
and  likewise  from  all  our  earliest  associations,  the  bird  of  Jove  is  always 
very  much  connected  with  ideas  of  grandeur. 

Many  birds  have  received  from  nature  the  same  picturesque  appearance 
which  in  others  happens  only  accidentally ;  such  are  those  whose  heads 
and  necks  are  adorned  with  ruffs,  with  crests,  and  with  tufts  of  plumes, 
not  lying  smoothly  over  each  other,  as  those  of  the  back,  but  loosely 
and  irregularly  disposed.  These  are,  perhaps,  the  most  striking  and 
attractive  of  all  birds,  as  having  that  degree  of  roughness  and  irregu- 
larity which  gives  a  spirit  to  smoothness  and  symmetry ;  and  where  in 
them  or  in  other  objects  these  last  qualities  prevail,  the  result  of  the 
whole  is  justly  called  beautiful. 

In  our  own  species,  objects  merely  picturesque  are  to  be  found 
among  the  wandering  tribes  of  gypsies  and  beggars ;  who,  in  all  the 
qualities  which  give  them  that  character,  bear  a  close  analogy  to  the 
wild  forester  and  the  worn-out  cart-horse,  and  again  to  old  mills, 
hovels,  and  other  inanimate  objects  of  the  same  kind.  More  dignified 
characters,  such  as  a  Belisarius,  or  a  Marios  in  age  and  exile,*  have  the 
same  mixture  of  picturesqueness  and  of  decayed  grandeur,  as  the  vener- 
able remains  of  the  magnificence  of  past  ages. 

If  we  ascend  to  the  highest  order  of  created  beings,  as  painted  by 
the  grandest  of  our  poets,  they,  in  their  state  of  glory  and  happiness, 
raise  no  ideas  but  those  of  beauty  and  sublimity ;  the  picturesque,  as 
in  earthly  objects,  only  shows  itself  when  they  are  in  a  state  of  ruin — 

"  Nor  appearM 
Less  than  archangel  rtria'd,  and  the  excess 
Of  glory  obscured" — 

when  shadows  have  obscured  their  original  brightness,  and  that  uniform, 
though  angelic  expression  of  pure  love  and  joy,  has  been  destroyed  by 
a  variety  of  warring  passions  : 

"  DarkenM  so,  yet  shone 
Above  them  all  the  archangel ;  but  his  face 
Deep  scars  of  thunder  had  entrench 'd,  and  care 
Sat  on  his  faded  cheek,  but  under  brows 
Of  dauntless  courage  and  considerate  pride 
Waiting  revenge  •,  cruel  his  eye,  but  cast 
Signs  of  remorse  and  passion." 

If  from  nature  we  turn  to  that  art  from  which  the  expression  itself 


*  The  noble  picture  of  Salvator  Rosa  at  Lord  Townshend's,  which  in  the  print  is 
called  Belisarius,  has  been  thought  to  be  a  Marius  among  the  ruins  of  Carthage. 


88 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


is  taken,  \vc  shall  find  all  the  principles  of  picturesqueness  confirmed. 
Among  painters,  Salvator  Rosa  is  one  of  the  most  remarkable  for  his 
picturesque  effects:  in  no  other  master  are  seen  such  abrupt  and 
rugged  forms — such  sudden  deviations  both  in  his  figures  and  his 
landscapes;  and  the  roughness  and  broken  touches  of  his  pencilling, 
admirably  accord  with  the  objects  they  characterise. 

Guido,  on  the  other  hand,  was  as  eminent  for  beauty :  in  his 
celestial  countenances  are  the  happiest  examples  of  gradual  variation, 
of  lines  that  melt  and  flow  into  each  other;  no  sudden  break,  nothing 
that  can  disturb  that  pleasing  languor,  which  the  union  of  all  that  con- 
stitutes beauty  impresses  on  the  soul.  The  style  of  his  hair  is  as 
smooth  as  its  own  character,  and  its  effect  in  accompanying  the  face 
will  allow ;  the  flow  of  his  drapery — the  sweetness  and  equality  of  his 
pencilling,  and  the  silvery  clearness  and  purity  of  his  tints,  are  all 
examples  of  the  justness  of  Mr.  Burke's  principles  of  beauty.  But 
we  may  learn  from  the  works  even  of  this  great  master,  how  un- 
avoidably an  attention  to  mere  beauty  and  flow  of  outline,  will  lead 
towards  sameness  and  insipidity.  If  this  has  happened  to  a  painter  of 
such  high  excellence,  who  so  well  knew  the  value  of  all  that  belongs 
to  his  art,  and  whose  touch,  when  he  painted  a  St.  Peter  or  a  St. 
Jerome,  was  as  much  admired  for  its  spirited  and  characteristic  rough- 
ness, as  for  its  equality  and  smoothness  in  his  angels  and  madonnas — 
what  must  be  the  case  with  men  who  have  been  tethered  all  their  lives 
in  a  clump  or  a  belt  ? 

There  is  another  instance  of  contrast  between  two  eminent  painters, 
Albano  and  Mola,  which  I  cannot  forbear  mentioning,  as  it  confirms 
the  alliance  between  roughness  and  picturesqueness,  and  between 
smoothness  and  beauty ;  and  as  it  shows,  in  the  latter  case,  the  conse- 
quent danger  of  sameness.  Of  all  the  painters  who  have  left  behind 
them  a  high  reputation,  none,  perhaps,  was  more  uniformly  smooth 
than  Albano,  or  less  often  deviated  into  abruptness  of  any  kind :  none 
also  have  greater  monotony  of  character ;  but,  from  the  extreme  beauty 
and  delicacy  of  his  forms  and  his  tints,  and  his  exquisite  finishing,  few 
pictures  are  more  generally  captivating.  Mola,  the  scholar  of  Albano, 
(and  that  circumstance  makes  it  more  singular,)  is  as  remarkable  for 
many  of  those  opposite  qualities  which  distinguish  S.  Rosa,  though  he 
has  not  the  boldness  and  animation  of  that  original  genius.  There  is 
hardly  any  painter,  whose  pictures  more  immediately  catch  the  eye  of 
a  connoisseur  than  those  of  Mola,  or  less  attract  the  notice  of  a  person 
unused  to  painting.  Salvator  has  a  savage  grandeur,  often  in  the 
highest  degree  sublime  ;  and  sublimity,  in  any  shape,  will  command 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


89 


attention  :  but  Mola's  scenes  and  figures  are,  for  the  most  part,  neither 
sublime  nor  beautiful ;  they  are  purely  picturesque.  His  touch  is  less 
rough  than  Salvator's ;  his  colouring  has,  in  general,  more  richness  and 
variety ;  and  his  pictures  seem  to  me  the  most  perfect  examples  of  the 
higher  style  of  picturesqueness — infinitely  removed  from  vulgar  nature, 
but  having  neither  the  softness  and  delicacy  of  beauty,  nor  that  grandeur 
of  conception  which  produces  the  sublime. 

£A  picturesque  object  may,  in  fact,  be  defined  as  that  which,  from 
the  greater  facilities  which  it  possesses  for  readily  and  more  effectually 
enabling  an  artist  to  display  his  art,  is,  as  it  were,  a  provocative  to 
painting.  If  he  has  the  time  and  the  means  for  sketching  it,  he  finds 
it  impossible  to  resist  the  desire  with  which  it  fills  him  to  carry  it  off 
on  his  canvass,  because  it  is  not  only  striking  to  him,  but  he  feels  that 
it  must  be  equally  striking  nearly  to  all  mankind,  as  being  capable  of 
touching  those  general  chords  of  association  which  are  most  universally 
possessed  by  mankind,  and  which,  therefore,  naturally  produce  the 
most  general  interest.  The  examples  which  have  been  so  liberally, 
and,  if  I  may  be  permitted  so  to  speak,  so  picturesquely  brought 
forward  by  Price  in  this  chapter,  may  all  have  their  influence  traced 
to  this  common  source,  whence  that  of  beauty  or  sublimity  may  be 
likewise  followed ;  yet  the  distinction  of  the  term  will  not  be  the  less 
convenient,  because  it  is  thus  found  to  spring  from  the  same  root  with 
these  other  terms — for,  in  our  description  of  natural  scenery,  language 
is  often  found  to  be  so  poor,  that  no  word  which  conveys  a  tolerably 
well  defined  idea  should  ever  be  rejected.  Since  the  word  in  question 
was  coined,  a  new  one  has  been  more  recently  created — I  mean  the 
word  sculpturesque,  now  very  generally  employed  by  artists  and  ama- 
teurs to  signify  such  objects  as  are  best  fitted  for  displaying  the  powers 
of  the  sculptor,  or  which  would  most  readily  provoke  him  to  the  exer- 
cise of  his  art. — E.] 


90 


Silt  UVEDALE  PRICE 


CHAPTER  IV. 

Prom  all  that  has  been  stated  in  the  last  chapter,  picturesqueness  ap- 
pears to  hold  a  station  between  beauty  and  sublimity;  and,  on  that 
account,  perhaps,  is  more  frequently,  and  more  happily  blended  with 
them  both,  than  they  are  with  each  other.  It  is,  however,  perfectly 
distinct  from  either.  Beauty  and  picturesqueness  are  indeed  evidently 
founded  on  very  opposite  qualities;  the  one  on  smoothness,  the  other 
on  roughness ;  the  one  on  gradual,  the  other  on  sudden  variation ;  the 
one  on  ideas  of  youth  and  freshness,  the  other  on  those  of  age,  and 
even  of  decay. 

But  as  most  of  the  qualities  of  visible  beauty  are  made  known  to  us 
through  the  medium  of  another  sense,  the  sight  itself  is  hardly  more  to 
be  considered  than  the  touch,  in  regard  to  all  those  sensations  which 
are  excited  by  beautiful  forms;  and  the  distinction  between  the 
beautiful  and  the  picturesque  will,  perhaps,  be  most  strongly  pointed 
out  by  means  of  the  latter  sense.  I  am  aware  that  this  is  liable  to  a 
gross  and  obvious  ridicule;  but,  for  that  reason,  none  but  gross  and 
commonplace  minds  will  dwell  upon  it. 

Mr.  Burke  has  observed,  that  "  men  are  carried  to  the  sex  in  gene- 
r;il.  as  it  is  the  sex,  and  by  the  common  law  of  nature;  but  they  are 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


91 


attached  to  particulars  by  personal  beauty  ;"  he  adds,  "  I  call  beauty  a 
social  quality ;  for  where  women  and  men,  and  not  only  they,  but 
when  other  animals  give  us  a  sense  of  joy  and  pleasure  in  beholding 
them — and  there  are  many  that  do  so — they  inspire  us  with  senti- 
ments of  tenderness  and  affection  towards  their  persons ;  we  like  to 
have  them  near  us,  and  we  enter  willingly  into  a  kind  of  relation  with 
them."* 

These  sentiments  of  tenderness  and  affection,  nature  has  taught  us 
to  exptress  by  caresses,  by  gentle  pressure ;  these  are  the  endearments 
we  make  use  of,  where  sex  is  totally  out  of  the  question,  to  beautiful 
children,  to  beautiful  animals,  and  even  to  things  inanimate ;  and 
where  the  size  and  character,  as  in  trees,  buildings,  &c,  exclude  any 
such  relation,  still  something  of  the  same  difference  of  impression 
between  them  and  rugged  objects  appears  to  subsist ;  that  impression, 
however,  is  diminished,  as  the  size  of  any  beautiful  object  is  increased ; 
and  as  it  approaches  towards  grandeur  and  magnificence,  it  recedes 
from  loveliness. 

As  the  eye  borrows  many  of  its  sensations  from  the  touch,  so  that 
again  seems  to  borrow  others  from  the  sight.  Soft,  fresh,  and  beautiful 
colours,  though  "  not  sensible  to  feeling  as  to  sight,"  give  us  an  incli- 
nation to  try  their  effect  on  the  touch ;  whereas,  if  the  colour  be  not 
beautiful,  that  inclination,  I  believe,  is  always  diminished,  and  in 
objects  merely  picturesque,  and  void  of  all  beauty,  is  rarely  excited. 
I  have  read,  indeed,  in  some  fairy  tale,  of  a  country,  where  age  and 
wrinkles  were  loved  and  caressed,  and  youth  and  freshness  neglected ; 
but  in  real  life,  I  fancy,  the  most  picturesque  old  woman,  however  her 
admirer  may  ogle  her  on  that  account,  is  perfectly  safe  from  his 
caresses. 

It  has  been  observed  in  a  former  part,  that  symmetry,  which 
perfectly  accords  with  the  beautiful,  is  in  the  same  degree  adverse  to 
the  picturesque ;  and  this  circumstance  forms  a  strongly  marked  dis- 
tinction between  the  two  characters.  The  general  symmetry  which 
prevails  in  the  forms  of  animals  is  obvious ;  but  as  no  precise  standard  of 
it  in  each  species  has  been  made  or  acknowledged,  any  slight  deviation 
from  what  is  most  usual  is  scarcely  attended  to.  In  the  human  form, 
however,  from  our  being  more  nearly  interested  in  all  that  belongs  to 
it,  symmetry  has  been  more  accurately  defined ;  and,  as  far  as  human 
observation  and  selection  can  fix  a  standard  for  beauty,  it  has  been 
fixed  by  the  Grecian  sculptors.    That  standard  is  acknowledged  in  all 


Sublime  and  Beautiful,  p.  66. 


92 


SIR  UVKDALK  PRICE 


the  most  civilized  parts  of  Europe:  a  near  approach  to  it,  makes  the 
person  to  he  called  regularly  beautiful ;  a  departure  from  it,  whatever 
striking  and  attractive  peculiarity  it  may  bestow,  is  still  a  departure 
from  that  perfection  of  ideal  beauty,  so  diligently  sought  after,  and  so 
nearly  attained  by  those  great  artists,  from  the  few  precious  remains  of 
whose  works,  we  have  gained  some  idea  of  the  refined  art  which  raised 
I  hem  to  such  high  eminence;  for  by  their  means  we  have  learned  to 
distinguish  what  is  most  exquisite  and  perfect,  from  the  more  ordinary 
degrees  of  excellence- 
There  are  several  expressions  in  the  language  of  a  neighbouring 
people,  of  lively  imagination,  and  distinguished  gallantry  and  attention 
to  the  other  sex,  which  seem  to  imply  an  uncertain  idea  of  some  cha- 
racter, which  was  not  precisely  beauty,  but  which,  from  whatever 
causes,  produced  striking  and  pleasing  effects :  such  are  une  physio- 
nomie  de  fantaisie,  and  the  well-known  expression  of  un  certain  je  ne 
mis  quoi ;  it  is  also  common  to  say  of  a  woman — que  sans  etre  belle 
elle  est  piquante — a  word,  by  the  by,  that  in  many  points  answers 
very  exactly  to  picturesque.  The  amusing  history  of  Roxalana  and 
the  Sultan,  is  also  the  history  of  the  piquant,  which  is  fully  exempli- 
fied in  her  person  and  her  manners :  Marmontel  certainly  did  not  in- 
tend to  give  the  petit  nez  retrousse  as  a  beautiful  feature ;  but  to 
show  how  much  such  a  striking  irregularity  might  accord  and  co-ope- 
rate with  the  same  sort  of  irregularity  in  the  character  of  the  mind. 
The  playful,  unequal,  coquetish  Roxalana,  full  of  sudden  turns  and 
caprices,  is  opposed  to  the  beautiful,  tender,  and  constant  Elvira;  and 
the  effects  of  irritation,  to  those  of  softness  and  languor :  the  tendency 
of  the  qualities  of  beauty  alone  towards  monotony,  are  no  less  happily 
insinuated. 

Although  there  are  no  generally  received  standards  with  respect  to 
animals,  yet  those  who  have  been  in  the  habit  of  breeding  them  and  of 
attending  to  their  forms,  have  fixed  to  themselves  certain  standards  of 
perfection.  Mr.  Bakewell,  like  Phidias  or  Apelles,  had  probably 
formed  in  his  mind  an  idea  of  perfection  beyond  what  he  had  seen  in 
nature ;  and  which,  like  them,  though  by  a  different  process,  he  was 
constantly  endeavouring  to  embody.  It  may  be  said,  that  this  perfec- 
tion relates  only  to  their  disposition  to  produce  fat  upon  the  most 
profitable  parts — a  very  grazier-like  and  material  idea  of  beauty  it 
must  fairly  be  owned  ;  but  still,  if  a  standard  of  shape  (from  whatever 
cause)  be  acknowledged,  and  called  beautiful,  any  departure  from  that 
settled  correspondence  and  symmetry  of  parts,  will  certainly,  within 
that  jurisdiction,  be  considered  as  an  irregularity  in  the  form,  and  a 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


93 


consequent  departure  from  beauty,  however  striking  the  object  may  be 
in  its  general  appearance.  More  marked  and  sudden  deviations  from 
the  general  symmetry  of  animals,  whether  arising  from  particular  con- 
formation, from  accident,  or  from  the  effects  of  age  or  disease,  often 
very  strongly  attract  the  painter's  notice,  and  are  recorded  by  him ; 
but  they  never  can  be  thought  to  make  the  object  more  beautiful : 
many  of  these  would,  on  the  contrary,  by  most  men  be  called  deformi- 
ties, and  not  without  reason.  I  shall  hereafter  have  occasion  to  show 
the  connection,  as  well  as  the  distinction,  that  subsists  between  de- 
formity and  picturesqueness. 

If  we  turn  from  animal  to  vegetable  nature,  many  of  the  most 
beautiful  flowers  have  a  high  degree  of  symmetry ;  so  much  so,  that 
their  colours  appear  to  be  laid  on  after  a  regular  and  finished  design  : 
but  beauty  is  so  much  the  prevailing  character  of  flowers,  that  no  one 
seeks  for  any  thing  picturesque  among  them.  In  trees,  on  the  other 
hand,  every  thing  appears  so  loose  and  irregular,  that  symmetry  seems 
out  of  the  question ;  yet  still  the  same  analogy  subsists.  Cowley  has 
very  accurately  enumerated  the  chief  qualities  of  beauty,  in  his  descrip- 
tion of  what  he  considers  as  one  of  the  most  beautiful  of  trees — the 
lime.  He  has  not  forgot  symmetry  in  the  catalogue  of  its  charms, 
though  it  is  probable  that  few  readers  will  agree  with  him  in  admiring 
the  degree  or  the  style  of  it,  which  is  displayed  in  the  lime :  but  exact 
symmetry  in  all  things  was  then  as  extravagantly  in  fashion,  as  it  is 
now — perhaps  too  violently — in  disgrace. 

Stat  Pbilyra  ;  baud  omnes  formosior  altera  surgit 
Inter  Ilamadrvades  ;  mollissima,  Candida,  laevis, 
Et  viiidante  coma,  et  bene  olenti  flore  supeiba, 
Spargit  odoratam  late  atque  aqualiter  umbram. 

If  we  take  Candida  for  clear,  as  candidi  fontes  ;  and  viridante,  as 
peculiarly  fresh  and  verdant,  we  have  every  quality  of  beauty  separately 
considered.  A  beautiful  tree,  considered  in  point  of  form  only,  must 
have  a  certain  correspondence  of  parts,  and  a  comparative  regularity 
and  proportion  j  whereas  inequality  and  irregularity  alone  will  give  to 
a  tree  a  picturesque  appearance,  more  especially  if  the  effects  of  age 
and  decay,  as  well  as  of  accident  are  conspicuous :  when,  for  instance, 
some  of  the  limbs  are  shattered,  and  the  broken  stump  remains  in  the 
void  space ;  when  others,  half  twisted  round  by  winds,  hang  down- 
wards ;  while  others  again  shoot  in  an  opposite  direction,  and  perhaps 
some  large  bough  projects  sideways  from  below  the  stag-headed  top, 
and  then  as  suddenly  turns  upwards,  and  rises  above  it.    The  general 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


proportion  of  such  trees,  whether  tall  or  short,  thick  or  slender,  is  not 
material  to  their  character  six  picturesque  ohjects ;  but  where  beauty, 
elegance,  and  gracefulness  are  concerned,  a  short  thick  proportion  will 
not  give  an  idea  of  those  qualities.  There  certainly  are  a  great  variety 
of  pleasing  forms  and  proportions  in  trees,  and  different  men  have 
different  predilections,  just  as  they  have  with  respect  to  their  own 
species ;  but  I  never  knew  any  person,  who,  if  he  observed  at  all,  was 
not  struck  with  the  gracefulness  and  elegance  of  a  tree,  whose  propor- 
tion was  rather  tall,  whose  stem  had  an  easy  sweep,  but  which  re- 
turned again  in  such  a  manner,  that  the  whole  appeared  completely 
poised  and  balanced,  and  whose  boughs  were  in  some  degree  pendent, 
but  towards  their  extremities  made  a  gentle  curve  upwards  :  if  to  such 
a  form  you  add  fresh  and  tender  foliage  and  bark,  you  have  every 
quality  assigned  to  beauty. 

In  the  last  chapter  I  described  the  process  by  which  a  beautiful 
artificial  object  becomes  picturescpie  :  I  will  now  show  the  similar  effect 
of  the  same  kind  of  process  in  natural  objects ;  and,  more  fully  to  illus- 
trate the  subject,  will  compare  at  the  same  moment  the  effect  of  that 
process  on  animate  and  inanimate  objects.  It  cannot  be  said  that 
there  is  much  general  analogy  between  a  tree  and  a  human  figure  ;  but 
there  is  a  great  deal  in  the  particular  qualities  which  make  them  either 
beautiful  or  picturesque.  Almost  all  the  qualities  of  beauty,  as  it 
might  naturally  be  expected,  belong  to  youth ;  and,  among  them  all, 
none  is  more  consonant  to  our  ideas  of  beauty,  or  gives  so  general  an 
impression  of  it  as  freshness  ; — without  it,  the  most  perfect  form  wants 
its  most  precious  finish  ;  wherever  it  begins  to  depart,  wherever  marks 
of  age,  or  of  unhealthiness  appear,  though  other  effects,  other  sym- 
pathies, other  characters  may  arise,  there  must  be  a  diminution  of 
beauty.  Freshness,  which  equally  belongs  to  vegetable  and  animal 
beauty,  is  one  of  the  most  striking  and  attractive  qualities  in  the 
general  appearance  of  a  beautiful  object ;  whether  of  a  tree  in  its  most 
flourishing  state,  or  of  a  human  figure  in  its  highest  perfection.  In 
cither,  the  smallest  diminution  of  that  quality,  from  age  or  disease,  is  a 
manifest  diminution  of  beauty  ;  for,  as  it  was  remarked  by  a  writer  of 
the  highest  eminence,  venustas  et  pulchritudo  corporis  secerni  non  potest 
,i  vedetudine*  Besides  the  relation,  which  in  point  of  freshness  in  the 
genera]  appearance,  a  beautiful  plant  or  a  beautiful  person  bear  to  each 
other,  there  is  likewise  a  correspondence  in  particular  parts — the 
luxuriancy  of  foliage,  answers  to  that  of  hair ;  the  delicate  smoothness 


*  Cicero  de  OfHciis,  Lib.  1. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


95 


of  bark,  to  that  of  the  skin  ;  and  the  clear,  even,  and  tender  colour  of 
it,  to  that  of  the  complexion.  There  is  also,  in  the  bark  and  the  skin, 
though  much  more  sensibly  in  the  latter,  another  beauty  arising  from  a 
look  of  softness  and  suppleness,  so  opposite  to  the  hard  and  dry  appear- 
ance, which,  as  well  as  roughness,  is  brought  on  by  age  ;  and  which 
peculiar  softness — arising  in  this  case  from  the  free  circulation  of  juices 
to  every  part,  and  in  contra-distinction  to  what  is  dry,  though  yielding 
to  pressure — is  well  expressed  by  the  Greek  word  vyoorqg;  a  word  whose 
meaning  I  shall  have  occasion  to  dwell  more  fully  upon  hereafter.* 
The  earliest,  and  most  perceptible,  attacks  of  time,  are  made  on  the 
bark,  and  on  the  skin  ;  which  at  first,  however,  merely  lose  their 
evenness  of  surface,  and  perfect  clearness  of  colour  :  by  degrees,  the 
lines  grow  stronger  in  each  ;  the  tint  more  dingy  ;  often  unequal  and 
in  spots ;  and,  in  proportion  as  either  trees  or  men  advance  towards 
decay,  the  regular  progress  of  time,  and  often  the  effects  of  accident, 
occasion  great  and  partial  changes  in  their  forms.  In  trees,  the  various 
hollows  and  inequalities  which  are  produced  by  some  parts  failing, 
and  others  in  consequence  falling  in  ;  from  accidental  marks  and 
protuberances,  and  from  other  circumstances  which  a  long  course 
of  years  gives  rise  to,  are  obvious ;  and  many  correspondent  changes 
from  similar  causes  in  the  human  form,  are  no  less  obvious.  By  such 
changes,  that  nice  symmetry  and  correspondence  of  parts  so  essential 
to  beauty,  is  in  both  destroyed ;  in  both,  the  hand  of  time  roughens  the 
surface,  and  traces  still  deeper  furrows ;  a  few  leaves,  a  few  hairs,  arc 
thinly  scattered  on  their  summits ;  that  light,  airy,  aspiring  look  of 
youth  is  gone,  and  both  seem  shrunk  and  tottering,  and  ready  to  fall 
with  the  next  blast. 

Such  is  the  change  from  beauty — and  to  what  ?  surely  not  to  a  higher, 
or  an  equal  degree,  or  to  a  different  style  of  beauty.  No — nor  to  any 
thing  that  resembles  it :  and  yet,  that  both  these  objects,  even  in  this 
last  state,  have  often  strong  attractions  for  painters — their  works  afford 
sufficient  testimony ;  that  they  are  called  picturesque — the  general 
application  of  the  term  to  such  objects,  makes  equally  clear ;  and  that 
they  totally  differ  from  what  is  beautiful — the  common  feelings  of 
mankind  no  less  convincingly  prove.  One  misapprehension  I  would 
wish  to  guard  against.  I  do  not  mean  to  infer,  from  the  instances  I 
have  given,  that  an  object,  to  be  picturesque,  must  be  old  and  decayed ; 
but  that  the  most  beautiful  objects  will  become  so  from  the  effects  of 
age  and  decay  ;  and  I  believe  it  is  equally  true,  that  those  which  are 


*  In  the  Appen  dix. 


96 


Sill  UVEDALE  PRICE 


naturally  of  a  strongly  marked  and  peculiar  character,  are  likely  to 
become  still  more  picturesque  by  the  process  I  have  mentioned. 

I  have  now  very  fully  stated  the  principal  circumstances  by  which 
the  picturesque  is  separated  from  the  beautiful.  It  is  equally  distinct 
from  the  sublime  ;  for,  though  there  are  some  qualities  common  to  them 
both,  yet  they  differ  in  many  essential  points,  and  proceed  from  very 
different  causes.  In  the  first  place,  greatness  of  dimension  is  a  power- 
ful cause  Of  the  sublime.  I  would  by  no  means  lay  too  much  stress  on 
greatness  of  dimension,  but  what  Mr.  Burke  has  observed  with  regard 
to  buildings  is  true  of  many  natural  objects,  such  as  rocks,  cascades, 
&c,  where  the  scale  is  too  diminutive,  no  greatness  of  manner  will  give 
them  grandeur.  The  picturesque  has  no  connection  with  dimension  of 
any  kind,  and  is  as  often  found  in  the  smallest  as  in  the  largest  objects. 
The  sublime,  being  founded  on  principles  of  awe  and  terror,  never 
descends  to  any  thing  light  or  playful ;  the  picturesque,  whose  charac- 
teristics are  intricacy  and  variety,  is  equally  adapted  to  the  grandest 
and  to  the  gayest  scenery.  Infinity  is  one  of  the  most  efficient  causes 
of  the  sublime :  the  boundless  ocean,  for  that  reason,  inspires  awful 
sensations  ;  to  give  it  picturesqueness  you  must  destroy  that  cause  of  its 
sublimity,  for  it  is  on  the  shape  and  disposition  of  its  boundaries  that 
the  picturesque  must  in  great  measure  depend. 

Uniformity,  which  is  so  great  an  enemy  to  the  picturesque,  is  not 
only  compatible  with  the  sublime,  but  often  the  cause  of  it.  That 
general,  equal  gloom  which  is  spread  over  all  nature  before  a  storm, 
with  the  stillness,  so  nobly  described  by  Shakspeare,  is  in  the  highest 
degree  sublime — 

"  And  as  we  often  see,  against  a  storm, 
A  silence  in  the  heavens,  the  wrack  stand  still, 
The  bold  winds  speechless,  and  the  orb  itself 
As  hush  as  death, — anon  the  dreadful  thunder 
Does  rend  the  region." 

The  picturesque  requires  greater  variety,  and  does  not  show  itself  till 
the  dreadful  thunder  has  rent  the  region,  has  tossed  the  clouds  into  a 
thousand  towering  forms,  and  opened,  as  it  were,  the  recesses  of  the 
sky.  A  blaze  of  light  unmixed  with  shade,  on  the  same  principles, 
tends  to  the  sublime  only.  Milton  has  placed  light,  in  its  most  glorious 
brightness,  as  an  inaccessible  barrier  round  the  throne  of  the  Almighty — 

"  For  God  is  light, 
And  never  but  in  unapproached  light- 
Dwelt  from  eternity." 

And  such  is  the  power  he  has  given  even  to  its  diminished  splendour — 


OX  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


97 


"  That  the  brightest  seraphim 
Approach  not,  but  with  both  wings  veil  their  eyes.1' 

In  one  place,  indeed,  he  has  introduced  very  picturesque  circum- 
stances in  his  sublime  representation  of  the  Deity,  but  it  is  of  the  Deity 
in  wrath ;  it  is  when,  from  the  weakness  and  narrowness  of  our  con- 
ceptions, we  give  the  names  and  the  effects  of  our  passions  to  the  all- 
perfect  Creator : — 

"  And  clouds  began 
To  darken  all  the  hill,  and  smoke  to  roll 
In  dusky  wreaths  reluctant  flames,  the  sign 
Of  wrath  awaked." 

In  general,  however,  where  the  glory,  power,  or  majesty  of  God  are 
represented,  he  has  avoided  that  variety  of  form  and  of  colouring  which 
might  take  off  from  simple  and  uniform  grandeur,  and  has  encompassed 
the  divine  essence  with  unapproached  light,  or  with  the  majesty  of 
darkness. 

Again,  if  we  descend  to  earth,  a  perpendicular  rock,  of  vast  bulk  and 
height,  though  bare  and  unbroken,  or  a  deep  chasm,  under  the  same 
circumstances,  are  objects  which  produce  awful  sensations ;  but  without 
some  variety  and  intricacy,  either  in  themselves  or  their  accompani- 
ments, they  will  not  be  picturesque.  Lastly,  a  most  essential  difference 
between  the  two  characters  is,  that  the  sublime,  by  its  solemnity,  takes 
off  from  the  loveliness  of  beauty,  whereas  the  picturesque  renders  it 
more  captivating.  This  last  difference  is  happily  pointed  out  and 
illustrated  in  the  most  ingenious  and  pleasing  of  all  fictions,  that  of 
Venus'  Cestus.  Juno,  however  beautiful,  had  no  captivating  charms  till 
she  had  put  on  the  magic  girdle — in  other  words,  till  she  had  exchanged 
her  stately  dignity  for  playfulness  and  coquetry. 

According  to  Mr.  Burke,*  the  passion  caused  by  the  great  and  sub- 
lime in  nature,  when  those  causes  operate  most  powerfully,  is  astonish- 
ment, and  astonishment  is  that  state  of  the  soul  in  which  all  its  motions 
are  suspended  with  some  degree  of  horror ;  the  sublime,  also,  being 
founded  on  ideas  of  pain  and  terror,  like  them  operates  by  stretching 
the  fibres  beyond  their  natural  tone.  The  passion  excited  by  beauty 
is  love  and  complacency ;  it  acts  by  relaxing  the  fibres  somewhat  below 
their  natural  tone,  and  this  is  accompanied  by  an  inward  sense  of  melt- 
ing and  languor.  I  have  heard  this  part  of  Mr.  Burke's  book  criticised, 
on  a  supposition  that  pleasure  is  more  generally  produced  from  the 
fibres  being  stimulated  than  from  their  being  relaxed.    To  me  it  ap- 


*  Sublime  and  Beautiful,  Part  II.  Sec  1. 


98 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


pears,  that  Mr.  Burke  is  right  with  respect  to  that  pleasure  which  is 
the  effect  of  beauty,  of  whatever  has  an  analogy  to  beauty,  according 
to  the  principles  he  has  laid  down. 

If  we  examine  our  feelings  on  a  warm  genial  day,  in  a  spot  full  of 
the  softest  beauties  of  nature,  the  fragrance  of  spring  breathing  around 
us — pleasure  then  seems  to  be  our  natural  state,  to  be  received,  not 
sought  after;  it  is  the  happiness  of  existing  to  sensations  of  delight 
only — we  are  unwilling  to  move,  almost  to  think,  and  desire  only  to 
feel,  to  enjoy.  In  pursuing  the  same  train  of  ideas,  I  may  add,  that 
the  effect  of  the  picturesque  is  curiosity ;  an  effect  which,  though  less 
splendid  and  powerful,  has  a  more  general  influence.  Those  who  have 
felt  the  excitement  produced  by  the  intricacies  of  wild  romantic  moun- 
tainous scenes,  can  tell  how  curiosity,  while  it  prompts  us  to  scale  every 
rocky  promontory,  to  explore  every  new  recess,  by  its  active  agency 
keeps  the  fibres  to  their  full  tone ;  and  thus  picturesqueness,  when 
mixed  with  either  of  the  other  characters,  corrects  the  languor  of  beauty, 
or  the  tension  of  sublimity.  But  as  the  nature  of  every  corrective  must 
be  to  take  off  from  the  peculiar  effect  of  what  it  is  to  correct,  so  does 
the  picturesque  when  united  to  either  of  the  others.  It  is  the  coquetry 
of  nature — it  makes  beauty  more  amusing,  more  varied,  more  playful, 
but  also 

"  Less  winning  soft,  less  amiably  mild." 

Again,  by  its  variety,  its  intricacy,  its  partial  concealments,  it  excites 
that  active  curiosity  which  gives  play  to  the  mind,  loosening  those  iron 
bonds  with  which  astonishment  chains  up  its  faculties.  This  seems  to 
be  perfectly  applicable  to  tragi-comedy,  and  is  at  once  its  apology  and 
condemnation.  Whatever  relieves  the  mind  from  a  strong  impression, 
of  course  weakens  that  impression. 

Where  characters,  however  distinct  in  their  nature,  are  perpetually 
mixed  together  in  such  various  degrees  and  manners,  it  is  not  always 
easy  to  draw  the  exact  line  of  separation ;  I  think,  however,  we  may 
conclude,  that  where  an  object,  or  a  set  of  objects,  are  without  smooth- 
ness or  grandeur,  but  from  their  intricacy,  their  sudden  and  irregular 
deviations,  their  variety  of  forms,  tints,  and  lights  and  shadows,  are 
interesting  to  a  cultivated  eye,  they  are  simply  picturesque.  Such,  for 
instance,  are  the  rough  banks  that  often  enclose  a  by-road  or  a  hollow 
lane :  imagine  the  size  of  these  banks  and  the  space  between  them  to 
be  increased,  till  the  lane  becomes  a  deep  dell,  the  coves,  large  caverns, 
the  peeping  stones,  hanging  rocks,  so  that  the  whole  may  impress  an 
idea  of  awe  and  grandeur — the  sublime  will  then  be  mixed  with  the 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


99 


picturesque,  though  the  scale  only,  not  the  style  of  the  scenery  would 
be  changed.  On  the  other  hand,  if  parts  of  the  banks  were  smooth 
and  gently  sloping,  or  if  in  the  middle  space  the  turf  were  soft  and 
close  bitten,  or  if  a  gentle  stream  passed  between  them,  whose  clear, 
unbroken  surface  reflected  all  their  varieties — the  beautiful  and  the 
picturesque,  by  means  of  that  softness  and  smoothness,  would  then  be 
united. 

I  may  here  observe,  that  as  softness  is  become  a  risible  quality  as  well 
as  smoothness,  so  also,  from  the  same  kind  of  sympathy,  it  is  a  principle 
of  beauty  in  many  visible  objects ;  but  as  the  hardest  bodies  are  those 
which  receive  the  highest  polish,  and  consequently  the  highest  degree 
of  smoothness,  there  must  be  a  number  of  objects  in  which  smoothness 
and  softness  are  for  that  reason  incompatible.  The  one,  however,  is 
not  unfrequently  mistaken  for  the  other,  and  I  have  more  than  once 
heard  pictures,  which  were  so  smoothly  finished  that  they  looked  like 
ivory,  commended  for  their  softness. 

The  skin  of  a  delicate  woman  is  an  example  of  softness  and  smooth- 
ness united ;  but  if  by  art  a  higher  polish  be  given  to  the  skin,  the 
softness,  and  in  that  case  I  may  add  the  beauty,  is  destroyed.  Fur, 
moss,  hair,  wool,  &c.  are  comparatively  rough,  but  they  are  soft,  and 
yield  to  pressure,  and  therefore  take  off  from  the  appearance  of  hard- 
ness, and  also  of  edginess.  A  stone  or  rock,  when  polished  by  water, 
is  smoother,  but  less  soft  than  when  covered  with  moss ;  and  upon  this 
principle  the  wooded  banks  of  a  river  have  often  a  softer  general  effect 
than  the  bare  shaven  border  of  a  canal.  There  is  the  same  difference 
between  the  grass  of  a  pleasure-ground  mowed  to  the  quick,  and  that 
of  a  fresh  meadow ;  and  it  frequently  happens,  that  continual  mowing 
destroys  the  verdure  as  well  as  the  softness.  So  much  does  excessive 
attachment  to  one  principle  destroy  its  own  ends. 

Before  I  end  this  chapter,  I  wish  to  say  a  few  words  with  respect  to 
my  adoption  of  Mr.  Burke's  doctrine.  It  has  been  asserted  that  I  have 
pre-supposed  our  ideas  of  the  sublime  and  beautiful  to  be  clearly  settled,* 
whereas  the  least  attention  to  what  I  have  written  would  have  shown 
the  contrary.  As  far  as  my  own  opinion  is  concerned,  I  certainly  am 
convinced  of  the  general  truth  and  accuracy  of  Mr.  Burke's  system,  for 
it  is  the  foundation  of  my  own  ;  but  I  must  be  very  ignorant  of  human 
nature,  to  suppose  "  our  ideas  clearly  settled  "  on  any  question  of  that 
kind.  I  therefore  have  always  spoken  cautiously,  and  even  doubtingly, 
to  avoid  the  imputation  of  judging  for  others;  I  have  said,  ?/ we  agree 

Essay  on  Design  in  Gardening,  by  Mr.  George  Mason,  pag-^  201. 


100 


SIR  (JVEDALE  PRICE 


with  Mr.  Burke,  according  to  Mr.  Burke;  and  in  the  next  chapter  to 
this,  I  have  stated  that  Mr.  Burke  has  done  a  great  deal  towards  settling 
the  vague  and  contradictory  ideas,  &c.  These  passages  so  very  plainly 
show  how  little  I  presumed  to  suppose  our  ideas  were  clearly  settled, 
thai  no  person  who  had  read  the  book  with  any  degree  of  attention 
could  have  made  such  a  remark  ;  and  I  must  say,  that  whoever  does 
venture  to  criticise  what  he  has  not  considered,  is  much  more  his  own 
enemy  than  the  author's. 

By  way  of  convincing  his  readers  that  Mr.  Burke's  ideas  of  the 
sublime  are  unworthy  of  being  attended  to,  Mr.  G.  Mason  has  the 
following  remark,  which  I  have  taken  care  to  copy  very  exactly : — 
"  The  majority  of  thinking  and  learned  men  whom  it  has  been  my  lot 
to  converse  with  on  such  subjects,  are  as  well  persuaded  of  terrors 
being  the  cause  of  sublime,  as  that  Tenterden  steeple  is  of  Goodwin 
sands."  As  Mr.  Mason  seems  very  conversant  with  the  classics,  as 
well  as  with  English  authors,  and  as  the  sublime  in  poetry  has  been 
discussed  by  writers  of  high  authority,  and  the  sublimity  of  many 
passages  very  generally  acknowledged,  I  could  wish  that  he  and  his 
learned  friends  would  take  the  trouble  of  examining  such  passages  in 
Homer,  Virgil,  Shakspeare,  Milton,  and  all  the  poets  who  are  most 
eminent  for  their  sublimity;  and  should  they  find,  as  surely  they 
will,  that  almost  all  of  them  are  founded  upon  terror,  or  on  those 
modifications  of  it  which  Mr.  Burke  has  so  admirably  pointed  out,  they 
may,  perhaps,  be  inclined  to  speak  somewhat  less  contemptuously  of 
his  researches.  They  may  even  be  led  to  reflect,  what  must  have  been 
the  depth  and  penetration  of  that  man's  mind,  who,  scarcely  arrived  at 
manhood,  clearly  saw  how  one  great  principle,  an  acknowledged  cause 
of  the  sublime  in  poetry,  was  likewise  the  most  powerful  cause  of  sub- 
limity in  all  objects  whatsoever ;  pursued  it  through  all  the  works  of 
art  and  of  nature,  and  explained,  illustrated,  and  adorned  his  discovery, 
with  that  ingenuity,  and  that  brilliancy  of  language,  in  which  he  stands 
unrivalled. 

A  number  of  sublime  passages  in  poetry  will  of  course  present  them- 
selves  to  a  person  so  well  read  in  the  classics  as  Mr.  Mason,  but  I  will 
beg  leave  to  remind  him,  and  those  who  reject  Mr.  Burke's  doctrine, 
of  a  few  instances,  in  which  if  terror  be  not  the  cause  of  the  sublime, 
I  have  no  idea  of  any  cause  of  any  effect.  It  is  natural  to  begin  by 
the  great  father  of  all  poetry,  and  by  a  passage  which  Longinus  has 
particularly  dwelt  upon  :  it  is  that  celebrated  one  in  the  Iliad,*  where 


Iliad,  b.  xx.,  I.  56. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


101 


Homer  has  described  Jupiter  thundering  above,  Neptune  shaking  the 
earth  beneath,  and  Pluto  starting  from  his  throne  with  terror,  lest  his 
secret  and  dreary  abodes  should  be  burst  open  to  the  day.  From  this 
short  exposition  the  reader  may  judge  what  is  the  principle  on  which 
the  sublimity  of  this  passage  is  founded. 

The  most  sublime  passage,  according  to  my  idea,  in  Virgil,  or  per- 
haps in  any  other  poet,  is  that  magnificent  personification  of  a  thunder 
storm. 

"  Ipse  Pater,  media  nimhorum  in  nocte,  corusca 
Fulmina  molitur  dextra,  quo  maxima  motu 
Terra  tremit,  fugere  ferae,  et  mortalia  corda 
Per  gentes  humilis  stravit  pavor — Ille  flagranti 
Aut  Atho  aut  Rhodopen,  aut  alta  Ceraunia  telo 
Dejicit." 

Divest  these  two  passages  of  terror,  what  remains  ?  In  this  last 
particularly,  the  sublime  opposition  between  the  cause  and  the  effect  of 
terror,  more  strongly  than  in  any  other,  illustrates  the  principle.  And 
I  may  here  observe,  that  one  circumstance  which  gives  peculiar  gran- 
deur to  personifications,  is  the  attributing  of  natural  events  to  the  im- 
mediate action  of  some  angry  and  powerful  agent. 

"  Ipse  Pater  media,  &c. 
Neplunus  muros  saevoque  emota  tridente 
Fundamenta  quatit." 

Whenever  Dante  is  mentioned,  the  inscription  over  the  gates  of  hell, 
and  the  Conte  Ugolino,  are  among  the  first  things  which  occur. 
Milton's  Paradise  Lost  is  wrought  up  to  a  higher  pitch  of  awful  terror 
than  any  other  poem ;  to  a  mind  full  of  poetical  fire,  he  added  the  most 
studied  attention  to  effect ;  and  I  think  there  is  a  singular  instance  of 
that  attention,  and  of  the  use  he  made  of  terror,  in  one  of  his  most 
famous  similes. 

"  As  when  the  sun,  new  risen, 
Looks  through  the  horizontal  misty  air, 
Shorn  of  his  beams,  or  from  behind  the  moon 
In  dim  eclipse,  disastrous  twilight  sheds 
On  half  the  nations." 

The  circumstances  are  perfectly  applicable  to  the  fallen  archangel  ; 
but  Milton  possibly  felt  that  the  sun  himself,  when  shorn  of  his  beams 
and  in  eclipse,  was  a  less  magnificent  object  than  when  in  full  splendour, 
and  therefore  added  that  dignified  image  of  terror, 

"  And  with  fear  of  change 
Perplexes  monarchs." 


SIR  CJVEDALE  PRICE 


It  might  even  be  conjectured,  that  he  had  literally  added  that  last 
image  ;  for  the  pause  (which  no  poet  took  more  pains  to  vary,)  is  the 
same  as  in  the  preceding  line,  and  the  half  verso  which  follows, 
a  Darken'd  so,  yet  shone," 

would  do  equally  well,  in  point  of  metre  and  of  sense,  after 
"  On  half  the  nations." 

From  Shakspeare  also,  a  number  of  detached  passages  might  be 
quoted,  to  prove  what  surely  needs  no  additional  argument ;  but  that 
most  original  creator,  and  most  accurate  observer,  of  whom  no  English- 
man can  speak  without  enthusiasm,  has  furnished  a  more  ample  proof 
of  the  sublime  effect  of  unremitting  terror.  Let  those  who  have  read, 
or  seen  his  tragedies,  consider  which  among  them  all  is  most  strikingly 
sublime — which  of  them  most  powerfully  seizes  on  the  imagination,  and 
rivets  the  attention — I  believe  almost  every  voice  will  give  it  for  Mac- 
beth. In  that  all  is  terror ;  and  therefore  either  Aristotle,  Longinus, 
Shakspeare,  and  Burke,  or  Mr.  G.  Mason,  and  his  learned  friends,  have 
been  totally  wrong  in  their  ideas  of  the  sublime,  and  of  its  causes. 

That  the  same  principle  prevails  in  all  natural  scenery,  has  been  so 
fully  and  clearly  explained  by  Mr.  Burke,  that  any  further  arguments 
seem  superfluous;  yet,  as  it  sometimes  happens  that  wdiat  is  placed  in  a 
different,  though  less  striking  light,  may  chance  to  make  an  impression 
on  particular  minds,  I  will  mention  a  few  things  which  have  occurred 
to  me.  I  am  persuaded  that  it  would  be  difficult  to  conceive  any  set  of 
objects,  to  which,  however  grand  in  themselves,  an  addition  of  terror 
would  not  give  a  higher  degree  of  sublimity ;  and  surely  that  must  be 
a  cause,  and  a  principal  cause,  the  increase  of  which  increases  the  effect 
— the  absence  of  which,  weakens,  or  destroys  it.  The  sea  is  at  all  times 
a  grand  object ;  need  I  say  how  much  that  grandeur  is  increased  by  the 
violence  of  another  element,  and  again,  by  thunder  and  lightning  ? 
Why  are  rocks  and  precipices  more  sublime,  when  the  tide  dashes  at 
the  foot  of  them,  forbidding  all  access,  or  cutting  off  all  retreat,  than 
when  we  can  with  ease  approach,  or  retire  from  them  ?  How  is  it  that 
Shakspeare  has  heightened  the  sublimity  of  Dover  Cliff,  so  much 
beyond  what  the  real  scene  exhibits  ?  by  terror ;  he  has  placed  terror 
above  on  the  brink  of  the  abyss  ;  in  the  middle  where 

"  Half  way  down 
Hangs  one  who  gathers  samphire — dreadful  trade  ! " 

And  even  on  the  beach  below,  drawing  an  idea  of  terror  from  the 
comparative  deficiency  of  one  sense  : 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


103 


"  The  murmuring  surge 
That  on  the  unnumber'd  idle  pebbles  chafes, 
Cannot  be  heard  so  high  ; — I  '11  look  no  more 
Le&t  my  brain  turn." 

The  nearer  any  grand  or  terrible  objects  in  nature  press  upon  the 
mind,  (provided  that  mind  is  able  to  contemplate  them  with  awe,  but 
without  abject  fear,)  the  more  sublime  will  be  their  effects.  The  most 
savage  rocks,  precipices,  and  cataracts,  as  they  keep  their  stations,  are 
only  awful ;  but  should  an  earthquake  shake  their  foundations,  and 
open  a  new  gulf  beneath  the  cataract — he,  who  removed  from  imme- 
diate danger,  could  dare  at  such  a  moment  to  gaze  on  such  a  spectacle, 
would  surely  have  sensations  of  a  much  higher  kind,  than  those  which 
were  impressed  upon  him  when  all  was  still  and  unmoved. 


104 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


CHAPTER  V. 

Of  the  three  characters,  two  only  are  in  any  degree  subject  to  the 
improver ;  to  create  the  sublime  is  above  our  contracted  powers,  though 
we  may  sometimes  heighten,  and  at  all  times  lower  its  effects  by  art. 
It  is,  therefore,  on  a  proper  attention  to  the  beautiful  and  the  pictu- 
resque, that  the  art  of  improving  real  landscapes  must  depend. 

[[There  may  be  instances,  indeed,  in  which  the  sublime  may,  in  one 
sense,  be  created,  so  far  at  least  as  any  one  locality  may  be  considered 
— I  mean  by  the  bringing  into  view  some  grand  object,  by  the  removal 
of  some  obstacle  of  fence,  of  ground,  or  of  wood,  which  may  exclude  it 
from  observation.  I  know  a  case,  where  a  friend  of  mine  by  the 
judicious  removal  of  ground,  has  opened  up  a  view  of  a  grand  expansive 
branch  of  the  ocean  so  as  to  bring  it,  as  it  were,  under  the  windows  of 
his  mansion,  though  it  is,  in  reality,  several  miles  off.  The  view  of  sub- 
lime rocks,  or  mountains,  or  of  magnificent  waterfalls,  or  rivers,  or  lakes, 
is  often  lost  for  want  of  a  little  boldness  in  the  sacrifice  of  a  few  trees. 
I  Jut  no  part  of  the  art  of  landscape  gardening  requires  greater  caution,  or 
more  judgment  than,  this,  for  rashness  or  ignorance  may,  perhaps,  in  a 
few  hours,  do  such  damage  as  ages  may  be  required  to  repair.  As  for 
any  attempt  actually  to  create  a  sublime  object,  that  would  indeed  be 
as  absurd  and  presumptuous,  as  it  would  be  certain  of  failure. — E.J 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


105 


As  beauty  is  the  most  pleasing  of  all  ideas  to  the  human  mind,  it  is 
very  natural  that  it  should  be  most  sought  after,  and  that  the  name 
should  have  been  applied  to  every  species  of  excellence.  Mr.  Burke 
has  done  a  great  deal  towards  settling  the  vague  and  contradictory 
ideas  which  were  entertained  on  that  subject,  by  investigating  its  prin- 
cipal causes  and  effects ;  but  as  the  best  things  are  often  perverted  to 
the  worst  purposes,  so  his  admirable  treatise  has,  perhaps,  been  one 
cause  of  the  insipidity  which  has  prevailed  under  the  name  of  improve- 
ment. Few  places  have  any  claim  to  sublimity,  and  where  nature  has 
not  given  them  that  character,  art  is  ineffectual ;  beauty,  therefore,  is 
the  great  object,  and  improvers  have  learned,  from  the  highest  authority, 
that  two  of  its  principal  causes  are  smoothness,  and  gradual  variation  ; 
these  qualities  are  in  themselves  very  seducing,  but  they  are  still  more 
so,  when  applied  to  the  surface  of  ground,  from  its  being  in  every 
man's  power  to  produce  them ;  it  requires  neither  taste,  nor  invention, 
but  merely  the  mechanical  hand  and  eye  of  many  a  common  labourer ; 
and  he  who  can  make  a  nice  asparagus  bed,  has  one  of  the  most  essential 
qualifications  of  an  improver,  and  may  soon  learn  the  whole  mystery  of 
slopes  and  hanging  levels. 

If  the  principles  of  the  beautiful,  according  to  Mr.  Burke,  and  those 
of  the  picturesque  according  to  my  ideas,  be  just,  it  seldom  happens 
that  those  two  qualities  are  perfectly  unmixed  ;  and  I  believe,  it  is  for 
want  of  observing  how  nature  has  blended  them,  and  from  attempting 
to  make  objects  beautiful  by  dint  of  smoothness  and  flowing  lines,  that 
so  much  insipidity  has  arisen. 

[It  has  arisen,  and  ever  will  arise  from  any  attempt  to  produce 
beauty  by  the  mere  employment  of  any  one  of  its  qualities  only,  when, 
to  produce  its  perfection,  it  is  necessary  to  select  and  combine  them, 
and  this  too  in  such  a  manner  as  that  the  associations  produced  by  them 
shall  not  be  incongruous,  but  be  perfectly  in  harmony  with  the  nature 
and  character  of  the  object.  As  the  composition  of  beauty,  therefore, 
must  be  varied  in  each  individual  case,  it  would  be  vain  to  lay  down  a 
general  rule  for  compounding  it,  as  one  would  give  a  receipt  for  making 
a  particular  pudding.  I  conceive  that  it  is  in  the  tact,  and  discrimina- 
tion, and  judgment  displayed  in  the  selection,  and  composition  of  objects 
to  produce  beauty,  that  the  faculty  of  what  is  called  good  taste  consists. 
The  smallest  reflection  upon  the  examples  which  Sir  Uvedale  Price 
brings  forward  in  the  few  following  paragraphs  of  this  Chapter,  will 
at  once  show  that  something  more  than  mere  smoothness,  at  least,  is 
required  to  constitute  beauty.  Nay,  he  proves  that  a  due  proportion  of 
roughness  is  equally  essential ;  and  I  conceive  that  it  would  be  equally 


106 


BIB  UVEDALE  PRICE 


easy  to  prove,  that  all  the  different  ingredients  proposed  by  others, 
may,  in  certain  objects,  be  found  individually  operating  in  combination 
with  others  towards  the  composition  of  beauty. — E.] 

The  most  enchanting  object  the  eye  of  man  can  behold — that  which 
immediately  presents  itself  to  his  imagination  when  beauty  is  mentioned 
— that,  in  comparison  of  which  all  other  beauty  appears  tasteless  and 
uninteresting — is  the  face  of  a  beautiful  woman  ;  and  there,  where 
nature  has  fixed  the  throne  of  beauty,  the  very  seat  of  its  empire,  observe 
how  she  has  guarded  it,  in  her  most  perfect  models,  from  its  two  dan- 
gerous foes,  insipidity  and  monotony. 

The  eye-brows,  and  the  eye-lashes,  by  their  projecting  shade  over 
the  transparent  surface  of  the  eye,  and  above  all  the  hair,  by  its  com- 
parative roughness  and  its  partial  concealments,  accompany  and  relieve 
the  softness,  clearness,  and  smoothness  of  all  the  rest ;  where  the  hair 
has  no  natural  roughness,  it  is  often  artificially  curled  and  crisped,  and 
it  cannot  be  supposed  that  both  sexes  have  been  so  often  mistaken  in 
what  would  best  become  them.  As  the  general  surface  of  a  beautiful 
face  is  soft  and  smooth,  its  general  form  consists  of  lines  that  insensibly 
l licit  into  each  other  ;  yet  if  we  may  judge  from  those  remains  of  ancient 
arts,  which  are  considered  as  models  of  beauty,  the  Grecian  sculptors 
were  of  opinion  that  a  line  nearly  straight  of  the  nose  and  forehead  was 
required,  to  give  a  zest  to  all  the  other  waving  lines  of  the  face. 

Flowers  are  the  most  delicate  and  beautiful  of  all  inanimate  objects ; 
but  their  queen  the  rose,  grows  on  a  rough  thorny  bush  with  jagged 
leaves.  The  "moss  rose  has  the  addition  of  a  rough  hairy  fringe,  which 
almost  makes  a  part  of  the  flower  itself.  The  arbutus,  with  its  fruit, 
its  pendent  flowers,  and  rich  glossy  foliage,  is  perhaps  the  most  beauti- 
ful of  all  the  hardier  evergreen  shrubs  ;  but  the  bark  of  it  is  rugged, 
and  the  leaves,  which  like  those  of  the  rose,  are  sawed  at  the  edges, 
have  those  edges  pointed  upwards,  and  clustering  in  spikes  ;  and  it 
may  possibly  be  from  that  circumstance,  and  from  the  boughs  having 
the  same  upright  tendency,  that  Virgil  calls  it  arbutus  korrida,  or, 
as  it  stands  in  some  manuscripts,  horrens.  Among  the  foreign  oaks, 
maples,  &c.  those  are  particularly  esteemed,  the  leaves  of  which  (ac- 
cording to  a  common,  though  perhaps  contradictory  phrase)  are  beauti- 
fy jagged. 

The  oriental  plane  has  always  been  reckoned  a  tree  of  the  greatest 
beauty ;  Xerxes'  passion  for  one  of  them  is  well  known,  as  also  the 
high  estimation  they  were  held  in  by  the  Greeks  and  Romans.  The 
surface  of  their  leaves  is  smooth  and  glossy,  and  of  a  bright  pleasant 
green  ;  but  they  are  so  deeply  indented,  and  so  full  of  sharp  angles,  that 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


107 


the  tree  itself  is  often  distinguished  by  the  name  of  the  true  jagged 
oriental  plane. 

The  vine  leaf  has,  in  all  respects,  a  strong  resemblance  to  the  leaf 
of  the  plane  ;  and  that  extreme  richness  of  effect,  which  every  body 
must  be  struck  with  in  them  both,  is  greatly  owing  to  those  sharp  an- 
gles, to  those  sudden  variations,  so  contrary  to  the  idea  of  beauty  when 
considered  by  itself.  The  leaf  of  the  Burgundy  vine  is  rough,  and  its 
inferiority,  in  point  of  beauty,  to  the  smooth-leaved  vines,  is,  I  think, 
very  apparent,  and  clearly  owing  to  that  circumstance.  On  the  other 
hand,  a  cluster  of  fine  grapes,  in  point  of  form,  tint,  and  light  and 
shadow,  is  a  specimen  of  unmixed  beauty ;  and  the  vine  with  its  fruit, 
may  be  cited  as  one  of  the  most  striking  instances  of  the  union  of  the 
two  characters,  in  which,  however,  that  of  beauty  infinitely  prevails  ; 
and  who  will  venture  to  assert,  that  the  charm  of  the  whole  would  be 
greater,  by  separating  them — by  taking  off  all  the  angles,  and  sharp 
points,  and  making  the  outline  of  the  leaves  as  round  and  flowing  as 
that  of  the  fruit  ?  The  effect  of  these  jagged  points  and  angles  is  more 
strongly  marked  in  sculpture — especially  in  vases  of  metal — where  the 
vine  leaf,  if  imprudently  handled,  would  at  least  prove  that  sharpness 
is  very  contrary  to  the  beautiful  in  feeling ;  and  the  analogy  between 
the  two  senses  is  surely  very  just.  It  may  also  be  remarked,  that  in 
all  such  works  sharpness  of  execution  is  a  term  of  high  praise. 

I  must  here  observe  (and  I  must  beg  to  call  the  readers  attention  to 
w  hat,  in  my  idea,  throws  a  strong  light  on  the  whole  of  the  subject,)  that 
almost  all  ornaments  are  rough,  and  most  of  them  sharp,  which  is  a  mode 
of  roughness  ;  and,  considered  analogically,  the  most  contrary  to  beauty 
of  any  mode.  But  as  the  ornaments  are  rough,  so  the  ground  is  gene- 
rally smooth  ;  which  shows,  that  though  smoothness  be  the  most  essential 
quality  of  beauty,  without  which  it  can  scarcely  exist — yet  that  rough- 
ness, in  its  different  modes  and  degrees,  is  the  ornament,  the  fringe  of 
beauty,  that  which  gives  it  life  and  spirit,  and  preserves  it  from  baldness 
and  insipidity. 

A  moment's  consideration,  indeed,  will  show  us,  that  the  obvious,  the 
only  process  in  ornamenting  any  smooth  surface,  independently  of  colour, 
must  be  that  of  making  it  less  smooth,  that  is,  comparatively  rough  : 
there  must  be  different  degrees  of  roughness,  of  sharpness,  of  projections  ; 
and  this  is  the  character  of  those  ornaments  that  have  been  admired  for 
ages.  The  column  is  smooth  ;  the  ornamental  part,  the  capital,  is  rough  : 
the  facing  of  a  building  smooth,  the  frize  and  cornice  rough  and 
suddenly  projecting  :  it  is  so  in  vases,  in  embroidery,  in  every  thing  that 
admits  of  ornament  ;  and  as  ornament  is  the  most  prominent  and  striking 


108  SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 

part  of  a  beautiful  whole,  it  is  frequently  taken  for  the  most  essential 
part,  and  obtains  the  first  place  in  descriptions.  Thus  Virgil  in  speaking 
of  a  part  of  dress  highly  ornamented  says, 

"  Pallam  gemmis  auroque  riyentem.'''' 

And  Dryden  in  the  same  spirit,  when  describing  the  cup  that  contained 
the  heart  of  Guiscard,  calls  it, 

"  A  goblet  rich  with  gems,  and  rouyh  with  gold. " 

A  plain  stone  building,  may  not  only  be  very  beautiful,  but  by  many 
persons  be  thought  peculiarly  so  from  its  simplicity ;  but  were  an 
architect  to  decorate  the  shafts,  as  well  as  the  capitals  of  his  columns, 
and  all  the  smooth  stone  work  of  his  house  or  temple,  there  are  few 
people  who  would  not  be  sensible  of  the  difference  between  a  beautiful 
building,  and  one  richly  ornamented.  This,  in  my  mind,  is  the  spirit 
of  that  famous  reproof  of  Apelles  (among  all  the  painters  of  antiquity 
the  most  renowned  for  beauty)  to  one  of  his  scholars  who  was  loading 
a  Helen  with  ornaments  ;  "  Young  man,"  said  he,  "  not  being  able  to 
paint  her  beautiful,  you  have  made  her  rich." 

All  that  has  just  been  said  on  the  effect,  which,  in  objects  of  sight,  a 
due  proportion  of  roughness  and  sharpness  gives  to  smoothness,  as  like- 
wise on  the  danger  of  making  these  two  qualities  too  predominant,  may, 
I  think,  be  very  aptly  illustrated  by  means  of  another  sense.  Discords 
in  music,  which  are  analogous  to  sharp  and  angular  objects  of  sight,  are 
introduced  by  the  most  judicious  composers,  in  their  accompaniments  to 
the  sweetest  and  most  flowing  melodies,  in  order  to  relieve  the  ear  from 
that  languor  and  weariness,  which  long  continued  smoothness  always 
brings  on.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  should  a  composer,  from  too  great  a 
fondness  for  discords  and  extraneous  modulations,  neglect  the  flow  and 
smoothness  of  melody,  or  should  he  smother  a  sweet  and  simple  air 
beneath  a  load  even  of  the  richest  harmony,  he  would  resemble  an 
architect,  who,  from  a  false  notion  of  the  picturesque,  should  destroy  all 
repose  and  continuity  in  his  designs,  by  the  number  of  breaks  and 
projections,  or  should  try  to  improve  some  elegant  and  simple  building, 
by  loading  it  with  a  profusion  of  ornaments.  The  most  beautiful  and 
melodious  of  all  sounds,  that  of  the  human  voice  in  its  highest  perfec- 
tion, appears  to  the  greatest  advantage  when  there  is  some  degree  of 
sharpness  in  the  instrument  which  accompanies  it ;  as  in  the  harp,  the 
violin,  or  the  harpsichord :  the  flute,  and  even  the  organ  have  too  much 
of  the  same  quality  of  sound  ;  they  give  no  relief  to  the  voice  ;  it  is  like 
accompanying  smooth  water  with  smooth  banks  ;  yet  will  any  one  say, 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE, 


109 


that  separately  considered,  the  sound  of  the  harp  or  the  violin  is  as  beau- 
tiful as  that  of  a  fine  human  voice,  or  that  they  ought  to  be  classed 
together  ?  or  that  discords  are  as  beautiful  as  concords,  or  that  both 
are  beautiful,  because  when  they  are  mixed  with  judgment,  the  whole 
is  more  delightful  ?  Does  not  this  show  that  what  is  very  justly  called 
beautiful,  from  the  essential  qualities  of  beauty  being  predominant,  is 
frequently,  nay  generally  composite  ;  and  that  we  act  against  the  con- 
stant practice  of  nature  and  of  judicious  art,  when  we  endeavour  to  make 
objects  more  beautiful,  by  depriving  them  of  what  gives  beauty  some  of 
its  most  powerful  attractions  ? 

£But  why  does  the  human  voice  affect  us  more  powerfully  than  the 
sound  of  a  musical  instrument  \  Is  it  because  its  tones  are  finer,  more 
delicate,  or  more  powerful  ?  I  suspect  not.  The  most  magnificent  human 
voices  can  be  excelled  in  all  these  particulars  by  certain  instruments, 
when  played  on  by  the  best  performers.  The  greater  influence  which 
the  human  voice  possesses  over  us,  arises  from  the  circumstance  of  its 
being  the  human  voice.  For,  as  the  influence  which  instrumental  music 
has  over  us,  arises  from  the  association  which  its  tones  awaken  with  the 
feelings  and  passions  of  human  nature,  so  it  follows,  that  the  human 
voice,  as  being  more  immediately  connected  with  these,  must  be  in 
itself  a  superior  vehicle  for  their  expression.  It  has  also  the  immense 
advantage  of  being  able  to  give  utterance  to  those  sentiments  of  poetry, 
with  which  the  notes  have  been  harmoniously  associated.  In  support 
of  this  view,  the  experience  of  every  one  must  bear  witness  to  the  fact, 
that  it  is  by  no  means  always  the  finest  voice,  considering  it  as  an 
instrument,  that  most  deeply  touches  the  human  heart,  and  that  feeling 
and  powerful  expression,  will  always  awaken  more  chords  of  sympathy, 
and  more  general  emotions  in  the  minds  of  the  auditors,  than  the  finest 
toned  voices  can  possibly  do  without  it.  Nay,  the  very  power  which 
instrumental  music  possesses  over  us,  depends  entirely  on  the  extent  to 
which  this  mental  feeling  and  expression  can  be  imitated. — E.] 


110 


SIR  LIVED ALK  PRICE 


CHAPTER  VI. 

The  various  and  striking  lights  in  which  Mr.  Burke  has  placed  the  al- 
liance  between  smoothness  and  beauty  in  objects  of  sight,  and  the  very 
close  and  convincing  arguments  he  has  drawn  by  analogy  from  the  other 
senses,  I  should  have  supposed  would  have  left  but  little  doubt  on  the 
subject.  As  I  find,  however,  that  the  position  has  been  questioned  by 
persons  to  whose  opinions  much  respect  is  due,  I  shall  venture,  not- 
withstanding the  copious  and  masterly  manner  in  which  the  subject  has 
been  treated,  to  mix  a  few  observations  on  smoothness  with  some  farther 
remarks  I  have  to  offer  on  the  opposite  quality  of  roughness.  I  am  in- 
deed highly  interested  in  the  question,  for  if  this  principle  of  Mr.  Burke's 
should  be  false — if  smoothness  should  not  be  an  essential  quality  of 
beauty — if  objects  be  as  generally  beautiful  where  roughness,  as  where 
smoothness  prevails — and,  lastly,  if,  as  many  have  supposed,  all  that 
strongly  attracts  and  captivates  the  eye  be  included  in  the  sublime  and 
the  beautiful,  my  distinction,  of  course,  must  fall  to  the  ground.  I  can- 
not help  flattering  myself,  however,  that  the  having  considered  and 
compared  the  three  characters  together,  has  thrown  a  reciprocal  light  on 
each  ;  and  that  the  picturesque  fills  up  a  vacancy  between  the  sublime 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


Ill 


and  the  beautiful,  and  accounts  for  the  pleasure  we  receive  from  many 
objects,  on  principles  distinct  from  them  both ;  which  objects  should 
therefore  be  placed  in  a  separate  class. 

In  the  last  chapter  I  have  endeavoured  to  show  how  nature  has 
blended  a  certain  portion  of  the  qualities  of  the  picturesque,  of  rough- 
ness, sharpness,  &c.  in  many  objects  generally  allowed  to  be  beautiful, 
and  that  the  same  mixture  has  been  adopted  in  many  of  the  most  ap- 
proved works  of  art  ;  and  that  although  smoothness  be  the  groundwork 
of  beauty,  yet  that  roughness  is  its  fringe  and  ornament,  and  that  which 
preserves  it  from  insipidity.  I  shall  now  try  to  point  out,  what,  ac- 
cording to  my  notions,  is  the  most  usual  effect  of  the  two  qualities,  and 
in  what  manner  roughness  and  smoothness  act  upon  the  organs  and  upon 
the  mind. 

One  principal  charm  of  smoothness,  whether  in  a  literal  or  a  meta- 
phorical sense,  is,  that  it  conveys  the  idea  of  repose  ;  roughness,  on  the 
contrary,  conveys  that  of  irritation,  but  at  the  same  time  of  animation, 
spirit,  and  variety.  This  is  very  strongly  exemplified  in  the  sense  of 
hearing.  Smooth  and  flowing  strains  in  music,  give  a  pleasing  and  volup- 
tuous repose  to  the  ear  and  the  mind  ;  an  effect  which  is  beautifully 
described  in  the  well-known  lines  of  Dry  den's  ode, 

"Softly  sweet  in  Lvdian  measures, 
Soon  he  soothed  his  soul  to  pleasures.,■' 

On  the  other  hand,  the  character  of  martial  music,  which  rouses  and 
animates  the  soul,  is  finely  characterised  by 

"  The  spirit-stirring  drum,  th1  ear-piercing  fife." 

And  the  notes  of  the  trumpet,  which  rends  the  air  with  its  harsh  and 
sudden  blasts,  bears  no  small  degree  of  analogy  to  all  that  is  rude, 
broken,  and  abrupt,  in  visible  objects. 

That  in  speaking,  a  smooth  and  even  tone  of  voice  indicates  inward 
calm  and  repose,  and  sharp,  broken,  irregular  accents  irritation,  is  too 
obvious  to  be  dwelt  upon. 

In  the  sense  of  seeing,  with  which  we  are  more  immediately  concerned, 
the  position  may  be  shortly  exemplified  in  the  instances  already  given 
of  buildings  and  columns.  If  the  whole,  or  a  considerable  part  of  them, 
were  to  be  covered  with  sharp  projecting  ornaments,  the  eye  would  be 
harassed  and  distracted,  and  there  would  be  a  want  of  repose  ;  on  the 
other  hand,  if  the  whole  were  smooth  and  even,  there  would  be  a  want 
of  spirit  and  animation. 

It  may  be  objected  to  this  notion  of  the  effects  of  smoothness  and 


112 


SIR  UVEDALE  VRWE 


roughness,  that  the  most  highly  polished,  and  consequently  the  smoothest 
of  surfaces,  are  those  which  most  strongly  reflect  the  light,  and  of 
course  most  powerfully  irritate  the  organ.  But  here  likewise  roughness, 
in  which  term  I  mean  to  include  whatever  is  sharp,  pointed,  angular,  or 
in  any  way  contrary  to  smoothness,  produces  the  effect  I  have  ascribed 
to  it ;  for  when  smooth  polished  surfaces  are  cut  into  sharp  angles,  the 
irritation  is  infinitely  increased.  A  table  diamond,  for  instance,  like 
other  highly  polished  objects,  has  a  considerable  degree  of  stimulus  ;  but 
it  is  only  when  cut  into  a  number  of  sharp  points  and  angles,  that  it 
acquires  the  distinguished  title  of  a  brilliant.  Light  itself,  when  broken 
in  its  passage,  though  the  quantity  be  diminished,  is  rendered  more 
irritating  ;  we  can  bear  the  full  uninterrupted  splendour  of  the  setting 
,sun,  nay  can  gaze  on  the  orb  itself  with  little  uneasiness  ;  but  when  its 
rays  are  broken  by  passing  through  a  thin  screen  of  leaves  and  branches, 
no  eye  is  proof  against  the  irritation. 

In  all  cases  where  there  is  a  strong  effect  of  light,  whether  immediate 
or  reflected,  there  is  of  course  a  real  irritation  on  the  organ  ;  and  it 
probably  will  be  admitted,  that  there  is  a  greater  degree  of  it  when  the 
rays  strike  on  pointed  or  angular,  than,  on  smooth  and  even  surfaces. 
But  it  may  be  said,  that  when  there  is  no  particular  light  upon  objects, 
as  on  a  sunless  day,  their  roughness  or  abruptness  causes  no  irritation  in 
the  organs  of  sight.  I  imagine,  however,  that  besides  the  real  irritation 
which  is  produced  by  means  of  broken  lights,  all  broken,  rugged,  and 
abrupt  forms  and  surfaces,  have  also  by  sympathy  somewhat  of  the  same 
effect  on  the  sight,  as  on  the  touch.  Indeed,  as  it  is  generally  admitted, 
that  the  sense  of  seeing  acquires  all  its  perceptions  of  hard,  soft,  rough, 
smooth,  &c.  from  that  of  feeling,  such  a  sympathy  seems  almost  un- 
avoidable. Rough  and  rugged  objects,  especially  such  as  are  sharp  and 
pointed,  are  found  at  a  very  early  age  to  give  pain  and  irritation,  when 
imprudently  touched  or  applied  to  the  body ;  thence  the  eye  learns  to 
distinguish  the  visible  appearance  of  such  objects,  and  to  connect  it  with 
the  ideas  that  had  been  impressed  by  means  of  the  sense  of  feeling.  No 
one,  it  is  true,  can  recollect  when  the  first  impression  was  made,  or  when 
the  process  commenced,  by  which  the  sight  began  to  have  a  perception 
of  qualities,  which  can  alone  excite  a  sensation  by  means  of  another 
sense  ;  but  the  impression,  in  itself  a  strong  and  lasting  one,  is  frequently 
renewed.  The  opposite  impressions  of  pleasure,  ease,  and  repose,  from 
smooth  objects,  are  made  and  renewed  in  the  same  manner,  and  the  same 
sort  of  connection  established.  Thus  a  gently  sloping  bank  of  soft  and 
smooth  turf,  must,  I  imagine,  suggest  the  idea  of  the  quality  of  smooth- 
ness, and  consequently  of  ease  and  repose  to  a  person  while  he  is 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


113 


viewing  it,  just  as  it  does  when  he  afterwards  sits  or  lies  down  upon  it  : 
on  the  other  hand  a  rough,  abrupt,  and  stony  bank,  with  stumps  and 
roots  of  trees  mixed  with  thorns  and  briers,  would  most  certainly  present 
ideas  of  a  very  opposite  kind  to  a  man  who  had  to  make  his  way  through 
such  obstructions ;  and  therefore  would  probably  suggest  them,  though 
less  forcibly,  when  at  other  times  he  was  merely  looking  at  it ;  especially 
if  the  rude  brakes,  and  the  abruptnesses  of  the  ground  were  contrasted, 
as  is  often  the  case,  by  openings  of  smooth  turf  and  gently  swelling  hil- 
locks. All  objects  of  a  rugged  and  abrupt  kind  are  so  contrary  to  the 
nature  of  repose,  that  when  a  soft  and  pleasing  calm  is  the  leading 
feature  in  any  description,  the  very  supposition  of  such  objects  or 
qualities  being  introduced,  would  disturb  the  mind  of  the  reader.  Shak- 
speare  has  most  beautifully  and  poetically  impressed  an  image  of 
stillness  and  repose  when  he  says, 

"How  sweet  the  moonlight  sleeps  upon  yon  bank  !" 

Nothing  in  that  line  gives  any  indication  what  sort  of  a  bank  it  was  ; 
but  if  you  fancy  it  broken  and  abrupt,  the  moon  might  indeed  shine,  but 
it  could  no  longer  sleep  upon  it. 

([Nothing  can  be  more  in  accordance  with  the  doctrine  of  association, 
than  that  which  Sir  Uvedale  Price  has  here  set  down,  and  the  examples 
which  he  gives  are  peculiarly  happy. — E.] 

The  same  kind  of  sympathy  that  takes  place  in  smaller  objects,  in 
broken  ground,  roots,  stones,  thorns,  or  briers,  where  a  certain  degree 
of  difficulty  and  irritation  is  common  and  familiar,  seems  to  continue 
whatever  be  the  scale.  A  fall  from  a  great  height,  as  from  the  side  of  a 
precipice,  is  equally  destructive,  whether  the  surface  upon  which  you 
would  fall  be  rugged  or  plain  ;  yet  the  imagination  would  be  differently 
affected  by  looking  down  upon  an  even  surface,  or  on  sharp  pointed 
rocks  ;  and  some  feeling  of  that  kind,  I  believe,  is  always  connected, 
though  we  may  not  at  all  times  be  conscious  of  it,  with  broken  and 
pointed  forms. 

But  although  it  seems  highly  probable  that  such  forms  produce  a  kind 
of  stimulus  from  sympathy,  not  unlike  that  which  broken  lights  excite 
in  the  organ,  yet  the  most  constant  and  manifest  stimulus  which  rough 
and  abrupt  objects  produce  in  picturesque  scenery,  is  that  of  curiosity. 
This  will  clearly  appear,  if  we  consider  in  how  much  greater  a  degree 
all  that  most  excites  and  nourishes  curiosity  abounds  in  scenes  where 
the  lines  and  forms  are  broken  and  abrupt,  than  in  those  where  they  are 
smooth  and  flowing. 

If,  by  way  of  example,  we  take  any  smooth  object,  the  lines  of  which 

ii 


114 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


are  flowing,  such  as  a  down  of  the  finest  turf,  with  gentle  swelling  knolls 
and  hillocks  of  every  soft  and  undulating  form — though  the  eye  may 
repose  on  this  with  pleasure,  yet  the  whole  is  seen  at  once,  and  no  further 
curiosity  is  excited.  But  let  those  swelling  knolls  (without  altering  the 
scale)  be  broken  into  abrupt  rocky  projections,  with  deep  hollows  and 
coves  beneath  the  overhanging  stones ;  instead  of  the  smooth  turf,  let 
there  be  furze,  heath,  or  fern,  with  open  patches  between,  and  fragments 
of  the  rock  and  large  stones  lying  in  irregular  masses — it  is  clear,  if  you 
suppose  these  two  spots  of  the  same  extent,  and  on  the  same  scale,  that 
the  whole  of  the  one  may  be  comprehended  immediately,  and  that  if  you 
traverse  it  in  every  direction,  little  new  can  occur ;  while  in  the  other, 
every  step  changes  the  composition.  Then  each  of  these  broken  projec- 
tions and  fragments,  have  as  many  suddenly  varying  forms  and  aspects 
as  they  have  breaks,  even  when  the  sun  is  hidden ;  but  when  it  does 
shine  upon  them,  each  break  is  the  occasion  of  some  brilliant  light, 
opposed  to  some  sudden  'shadow.  All  such  deep  coves  and  hollows, 
as  are  usually  found  in  this  style  of  scenery,  invite  the  eye  to  penetrate 
into  their  recesses,  yet  keep  its  curiosity  alive  and  unsatisfied  ;  whereas 
in  the  other,  the  light  and  shadow  has  the  same  uniform,  unbroken 
character  as  the  ground  itself. 

I  have,  in  both  these  scenes,  avoided  any  mention  of  trees ;  for  in  all 
trees  of  every  growth,  there  is  a  comparative  roughness  and  intricacy, 
which,  unless  counteracted  by  great  skill  in  the  improver,  will  always 
prevent  absolute  monotony  :  yet  the  difference  between  those  which 
appear  planted  or  cleared  for  the  purpose  of  beauty,  with  the  ground 
made  perfectly  smooth  about  them,  and  those  which  are  wild  and 
uncleared,  with  the  ground  of  the  same  character,  is  very  apparent. 
Take,  for  instance,  any  open  grove,  where  the  trees,  though  neither  in 
rows  nor  at  equal  distances,  are  detached  from  each  other,  and  cleared 
from  all  underwood ;  the  turf  on  which  they  stand  smooth  and  level ; 
and  their  stems  distinctly  seen.  Such  a  grove,  of  full-grown  flourishing 
trees,  that  have  had  room  to  extend  their  heads  and  branches,  is 
deservedly  called  beautiful ;  and  if  a  gravel  road  winds  easily  through 
it,  the  whole  will  be  in  character.  But  how  different  is  the  scenery  in 
forests  !  Whoever  has  been  among  them,  and  has  attentively  observed  the 
character  of  those  parts,  where  wild  tangled  thickets  open  into  glades — 
half  seen  across  the  stems  of  old  stag-headed  oaks  and  twisted  beeches — 
has  remarked  the  irregular  tracks  of  wheels,  and  the  foot-paths  of  men 
and  animals,  how  they  seem  to  have  been  seeking  and  forcing  their  way, 
in  every  direction — must  have  felt  how  differently  the  stimulus  of 
furiosity  is  excited  in  such  scenes,  and  how  much  likewise  the  varied 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


115 


effects  of  light  and  shadow  are  promoted,  by  the  variety  and  intricacy 
of  the  objects. 

If  it  be  true  that  a  certain  irritation  or  stimulus  is  necessary  to  the 
picturesque,  it  is  equally  so  that  a  soft  and  pleasing  repose  is  the  effect, 
and  the  characteristic  of  the  beautiful;  and  what,  in  my  mind,  places  this 
position  in  a  very  favourable  light  is,  that  the  peculiar  excellence  of  the 
painter  who  most  studied  the  beautiful  in  landscape,  is  characterised 
by  il  rij)Gso  di  Claudio  ;  and  when  the  mind  of  man  is  in  the  delight- 
ful state  of  repose  of  which  Claude's  pictures  are  the  image — when  he 
feels  that  mild  and  equal  sunshine  of  the  soul  which  warms  and  cheers, 
but  neither  inflames  nor  irritates,  his  heart  seems  to  dilate  with  happi- 
ness, he  is  disposed  to  every  act  of  kindness  and  benevolence,  to  love 
and  cherish  all  around  him.  These  are  the  sensations  which  beauty,  con- 
sidered generally,  and  without  any  regard  to  the  sex  or  to  the  nature  of 
the  object  in  which  it  resides,  does,  and  ought  to  excite.  A  mind  in  such 
a  state  may  be  compared  to  the  surface  of  a  pure  and  tranquil  lake,  into 
which  if  the  smallest  pebble  be  cast,  the  waters,  like  the  affections,  seem 
gently  to  expand  themselves  on  every  side  ;  but  when  the  mind  is  carried 
on  by  any  eager  pursuit,  the  still  voice  of  the  milder  affections  is  as  little 
heard,  and  its  effect  as  shortlived,  as  the  sound  or  effect  of  a  pebble, 
when  thrown  into  a  rapid  and  rocky  stream. 

Repose  is  always  used  in  a  good  sense  ;  as  a  state,  if  not  of  positive 
pleasure,  at  least  as  one  of  freedom  from  all  pain  and  uneasiness  ;  irrita- 
tion, almost  always  in  an  opposite  sense  ;  and  yet,  contradictory  as  it  may 
appear,  we  must  acknowledge  it  to  be  the  source  of  our  most  active  and 
lively  pleasures  :  its  nature,  however,  is  eager  and  hurrying,  and  such 
are  the  pleasures  which  spring  from  it.  Let  those  who  have  been  used 
to  observe  the  works  of  nature,  reflect  on  their  sensations  when  viewing 
the  smooth  and  tranquil  scene  of  a  beautiful  lake,  or  the  wild,  abrupt,  and 
noisy  one  of  a  picturesque  river.  I  think  they  will  own  them  to  have 
been  as  different  as  the  scenes  themselves,  and  that  nothing  but  the 
poverty  of  language  makes  us  call  two  sensations  so  distinct  from  each 
other,  by  the  common  name  of  pleasure. 

[[Yet  this  is  nothing  after  all  but  a  complaint  that  our  language  is 
poor,  because  it  does  not  admit  of  our  having  names  sufficient  to  de- 
nominate all  the  various  kinds  of  pleasure  which  the  human  mind  is 
capable  of  enjoying.  Tragedy  and  comedy  are  alike  the  sources  of 
pleasure  to  mankind  ;  but  although  it  would  certainly  be  no  misfor- 
tune if  our  language  were  so  copious  as  to  enable  us  to  afford  to  em- 
ploy one  particular  name  definitive  of  the  sad  pleasure  we  enjoy  in  the 
one  case,  and  another  descriptive  of  the  merry  pleasure  which  we  enjoy 


116 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


in  the  other,  I  greatly  question  whether  the  science  of  the  anatomy  of 
the  human  mind  would  be  thereby  one  iota  advanced. — E.] 

All  that  has  been  said  in  this  chapter  with  respect  to  the  effects  of 
roughness  and  smoothness,  of  light  and  shadow,  in  producing  either 
irritation  or  repose,  will  receive  much  additional  illustration  from  that 
art,  by  means  of  which  the  most  striking  characters  of  visible  objects 
have  been  pointed  ( ut  to  our  notice,  and  impressed  on  our  minds.  I 
now,  therefore,  shall  take  a  view  of  the  practice  and  principles  of  some 
of  the  most  eminent  painters,  and  shall  endeavour  to  strengthen  the 
positions  which  I  have  ventured  to  advance,  by  their  examples  and 
authority. 

The  genius  of  Rubens  was  strongly  turned  to  the  picturesque  dis- 
position of  his  figures,  so  as  often  to  sacrifice  every  other  consideration 
to  the  intricacy,  contrast,  and  striking  variations  of  their  forms  and 
groups.  Such  a  disposition  of  objects  seems  to  call  for  something 
similar  in  the  management  of  the  light  and  shade;  and,  accordingly,  we 
owe  some  of  the  most  striking  examples  of  both  to  his  fertile  invention. 
In  point  of  brilliancy,  of  extreme  splendour  of  light,  no  pictures  can 
stand  in  competition  with  those  of  Rubens.  I  speak  of  those  pictures 
(and  they  are  very  numerous)  in  which  he  aimed  at  great  brilliancy. 
As  no  painter  possessed  more  entirely  all  the  principles  of  his  art,  the 
solemn  breadth  of  his  light  and  shade  is,  on  some  occasions,  no  less  strik- 
ing than  its  force  and  splendour  on  others.  Sometimes  those  lights  are 
almost  unmixed  with  shade  ;  at  other  times  they  burst  from  dark  shadows, 
they  glance  on  the  different  parts  of  the  picture,  and  produce  that  flicker 
(as  it  sometimes  is  called)  so  captivating  to  the  eye  under  his  management, 
but  so  apt  to  offend  it  when  attempted  by  inferior  artists,  or  by  those 
who  are  less  thoroughly  masters  of  the  principles  of  harmony  than  that 
great  painter.  All  these  dazzling  effects  are  heightened  by  the  spirited 
management  of  his  pencil — by  those  sharp,  animated  touches,  which  give 
life  and  energy  to  every  object. 

Correggio's  principal  attention,  in  point  of  form,  was  directed  to  flow 
of  outline,  and  gradual  variation  :  of  this  he  never  entirely  lost  sight, 
even  in  his  most  capricious  fore-shortenings — and  the  style  of  his  light 
and  shadow  is  so  congenial,  that  the  one  seems  the  natural  consequence 
of  the  other.  His  pictures  are  always  cited  as  the  most  perfect  models 
of  those  soft  and  insensible  transitions,  of  that  union  of  effect  which, 
above  every  thing  else,  impresses  the  general  idea  of  beauty.  The 
manner  of  his  pencilling  is  exactly  of  a  piece  with  the  rest — all  seems 
melted  together,  but  with  so  nice  a  judgment,  as  to  avoid,  by  means  of 
certain  free,  yet  delicate  touches,  that  laboured  hardness  and  insipidity 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


117 


which  arise  from  what  is  called  high  finishing.  Correggio's  pictures  are 
indeed  as  far  removed  from  monotony,  as  from  glare ;  he  seems  to  have 
felt,  beyond  all  others,  the  exact  degree  of  brilliancy  which  accords  with 
the  softness  of  beauty,  and  to  have  been  with  regard  to  figures,  what 
Claude  was  in  landscape. 

The  pictures  of  Claude  are  brilliant  in  a  high  degree — but  that  bril- 
liancy is  so  diffused  over  the  whole  of  them,  so  happily  balanced,  so 
mellowed  and  subdued  by  the  almost  visible  atmosphere  which  pervades 
every  part,  and  unites  all  together,  that  nothing  in  particular  catches 
the  eye — the  whole  is  splendour,  the  whole  is  repose — every  thing 
lighted  up,  every  thing  in  sweetest  harmony.  Rubens  differs  as  strongly 
from  Claude,  as  he  does  from  Correggio.  His  landscapes  are  full  of 
the  peculiarities,  and  picturesque  accidents  in  nature — of  striking  con- 
trasts in  form,  colour,  and  light  and  shadow :  sunbeams  bursting  through 
a  small  opening  in  a  dark  wood — a  rainbow  against  a  stormy  sky — 
effects  of  thunder  and  lightning,  torrents  rolling  down,  trees  torn  up  by 
the  roots,  and  the  dead  bodies  of  men  and  animals — are  among  the  sub- 
lime and  picturesque  circumstances  exhibited  by  his  daring  pencil. 
These  sudden  gleams,  these  cataracts  of  light,  these  bold  oppositions  of 
clouds  and  darkness  which  he  has  so  nobly  introduced,  would  destroy 
all  the  beauty  and  elegance  of  Claude  :  on  the  other  hand,  the  mild  and 
equal  sunshine  of  that  charming  painter,  would  as  ill  accord  with  the 
twisted  and  singular  forms,  and  the  bold  and  animated  variety  of  the 
landscapes  of  Rubens.  The  distinct  characters  and  effects  of  light  and 
shadow  on  the  great  face  of  nature,  which  have  been  imitated  by  Rubens 
and  by  Claude,  may  not  unaptly  be  compared  to  the  no  less  distinct 
characters  and  effects  of  smiles  on  the  human  countenance — nothing  is 
so  captivating,  or  seems  so  much  to  accord  with  our  ideas  of  beauty,  as 
the  smiles  of  a  beautiful  countenance — yet  they  have  sometimes  a  strik- 
ing mixture  of  another  character.  Of  this  kind  are  those  smiles  which 
break  out  suddenly  from  a  serious,  sometimes  from  almost  a  severe 
countenance,  and  which,  when  that  gleam  is  over,  leave  no  trace  of  it 
behind — 

"  Brief  as  the  lightning  in  the  collied  night, 
That  in  a  spleen  unfolds  both  heaven  and  earth  ; 
And  ere  a  man  has  time  to  say,  behold  ! 
The  jaws  of  darkness  do  devour  it  up." 

This  sudden  effect  is  often  hinted  at  by  the  Italian  poets,  as  appears 
by  their  allusion  to  the  most  sudden  and  dazzling  of  lights; — gli  scintilla 
un  riso — lampeggia  un  riso — il  balenar  d'un  riso. 

There  is  another  smile,  which  seems  in  the  same  degree  to  accord 


118 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


with  the  ideas  of  beauty  only.  It  is  that  smile  which  proceeds  from  a 
mind  full  of  sweetness  and  sensibility,  and  which,  when  it  is  over,  still 
leaves  on  the  countenance  its  mild  and  amiable  impression  ;  as,  after  the 
sun  is  set,  the  mild  glow  of  his  rays  is  still  diffused  over  every  object. 
This  smile,  with  the  glow  that  accompanies  it,  is  beautifully  painted  by 
Milton,  as  most  becoming  an  inhabitant  of  heaven — 

"  To  whom  the  angel,  with  a  smile  that  glow'd 
Celestial  rosy  red,  love's  proper  hue, 
Thus  answerM." 

If  the  general  brilliancy  and  dazzling  effects  of  that  splendid 
painter  Rubens,  may  justly  be  opposed  to  the  more  mild  diffusion  of 
light  in  Claude  and  Correggio,  the  deep  midnight  shadows  which  Rem- 
brandt has  spread  over  the  greater  part  of  his  canvass,  may  be  opposed 
to  it  with  equal  justice  ;  and  the  whole  of  the  comparison  between  these 
painters  may  serve  to  show,  how  much  the  picturesque  delights  in  ex- 
tremes, while  the  beautiful  preserves  a  just  medium  between  them. 
The  general  character  of  Rembrandt's  pictures  is  that  of  extreme  force, 
arising  from  a  small  portion  of  light  amidst  surrounding  darkness ;  and 
though  it  be  true  that  Rubens  and  Correggio,  and  even  Claude,  have 
produced  effects  of  that  kind,  yet  it  was  only  occasionally,  and  where  the 
subject,  as  in  night  scenes,  required  them  ;  whereas,  in  Rembrandt  they 
result  from  his  prevailing  principle  :  and  it  hardly  need  be  said,  how 
much  more  they  are  suited  to  objects  and  circumstances  of  a  picturesque, 
than  a  beautiful  character.  Rembrandt's  pencilling,  where  it  is  most 
apparent  (for  he  well  knew  where  to  soften  it)  is  no  less  different  from 
that  of  the  painters  I  have  mentioned,  than  the  principle  on  which  he 
wrought ;  his  colours  seem,  as  it  were,  dabbed  on  the  canvass  ;  and  one 
might  suppose  them  to  have  been  worked  upon  it  with  some  coarser 
instrument  than  a  painter's  brush.  Many  painters,  indeed,  when  they 
represent  any  striking  effect  of  light,  leave  the  touches  of  the  pencil 
more  rough  and  strongly  marked,  than  the  quality  of  the  objects  them- 
selves seems  to  justify  ;  but  Rembrandt,  who  succeeded  beyond  all  others 
in  these  forcible  effects,  carried  also  this  method  of  creating  them  further 
than  any  other  master.  Those  who  have  seen  his  famous  picture  in  the 
Stadthouse  at  Amsterdam,  may  remember  a  figure  highly  illuminated, 
whose  dress  is  a  silver  tissue,  with  fringes,  tassels,  and  other  ornaments, 
nearly  of  the  same  brilliant  colour  :  it  is  the  most  surprising  instance  I 
ever  saw  of  the  effect  of  that  rough  manner  of  pencilling,  in  producing 
what  most  nearly  approaches  to  the  glitter  and  to  the  irritation  which 
is  caused  by  real  light,  when  acting  powerfully  on  any  object ;  and  this 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


119 


too  with  a  due  attention  to  general  harmony,  and  with  such  a  command- 
ing truth  of  representation,  as  no  high  finishing  can  give. 

The  following  anecdote  of  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  which  a  friend  of 
mine  heard  from  a  pupil  of  his  who  was  present  at  the  scene,  will  serve 
as  a  further  illustration  of  the  subject — and  I  trust  will  not  be  unaccep- 
table to  the  reader.  This  pupil,  going  one  day  into  Sir  Joshua's  paint- 
ing room,  found  him  in  a  state  of  perplexing  contemplation  ;  he  had 
been  endeavouring  to  produce  a  glitter  on  a  piece  of  splendid  drapery, 
which  occupied  a  very  interesting  situation  in  the  centre  of  the  eye  of 
his  picture,  and  never  could  do  it  to  his  mind.  He  tried  again  and  again  ; 
rubbed  it  out ;  took  snuff  with  unusual  energy,  but  all  would  not  do. 
He  now  looked  for  some  time  despondingly  on  the  picture,  playing  with 
a  large  hog's  brush  which  he  held  in  his  hand  :  at  length  he  began  to 
move  backwards  towards  the  chimney  with  his  brush  behind  him,  till 
his  heel  kicked  the  fender  ;  when,  stooping  sideways,  he  thrust  the  brush 
into  the  ashes  and  cinders.  His  face  then  assumed  a  look  of  hope  mixed 
with  exultation,  and  having  just  wiped  off  a  portion  of  the  cinders  on 
the  carpet,  he  advanced  towards  his  work,  and  grouted  on  the  remains 
of  them  upon  the  part  where  he  wished  the  brilliancy  to  be  produced, 
crying  out  with  a  triumphant  air,  "  that  will  do." 

His  object,  which  was  accomplished  by  a  kind  of  instinct,  seems  to 
have  been  this  :  to  lay  on  such  a  ground  for  the  reception  of  the  proper 
colours,  as  by  facing  the  light  in  a  number  of  different  directions  might 
produce  such  a  flicker,  as  could  not  be  given  by  putting  on  the  colours 
in  the  common  way  upon  a  smooth  surface. 

Rembrandt,  it  is  well  known,  had  scarcely  any  idea  of  beauty  or  ele- 
gance ;  and  as  little  of  that  grandeur  in  the  human  form,  which  results 
from  correctness  and  fulness  of  outline,  added  to  nobleness  of  character. 
He  had,  however,  a  grandeur  of  his  own  of  a  mixed  and  peculiar  kind, 
produced  by  the  arrangement  of  his  compositions,  and  even  by  the  form 
of  many  of  the  objects  themselves,  when  set  off  and  partially  concealed 
by  the  breadth  and  the  disposition  of  his  light  and  shadow.  In  that 
branch  of  his  art  in  which  he  is  so  pre-eminent,  he  often  produces  a 
mysterious  solemnity,  which  impresses  very  grand  ideas,  and  which,  I 
am  persuaded,  would  add  no  small  degree  of  grandeur  to  the  figures 
and  compositions  of  the  higher  schools.  Rembrandt  has  great  variety 
and  truth  of  expression,  though  seldom  of  an  elevated  kind ;  one  figure 
of  his,  however — the  Christ  raising  Lazarus — for  the  simple,  yet  com- 
manding dignity  of  the  charactor  and  action,  is  perhaps  superior  to  that 
of  any  painter  who  has  treated  that  awful  subject.  I  do  not  recollect 
any  other  figure  of  his  in  that  style  equally  striking ;  but,  should  the 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


Christ  be  a  single  instance,  it  still  may  show  that  genius  was  not  want- 
ing, though  early  education  and  habit,  and  all  that  he  saw  around  him, 
whether  in  nature  or  in  art,  had  given  a  different  bias  to  his  mind. 
That  bias  seems  to  have  been  towards  rich  and  picturesque  effects, 
especially  those  of  light  and  shadow  ;  and  the  figures,  dresses,  buildings 
— scenes  which  he  represented — though  they  occasionally  produced  gran- 
deur, were  chiefly  chosen  with  a  view  to  such  effects.  What  was  his 
opinion  of  studying  the  antique  may  be  inferred  from  an  anecdote  men- 
tioned in  his  life ; — he  carried  one  of  his  visitors  into  an  inward  room, 
and,  showing  him  a  parcel  of  old-fashioned  dresses  and  odd  bits  of 
armour,  "  there,"  said  he,  "  are  my  antiques." 

Rubens,  though  he  set  a  just  value  on  ancient  statues,  and  though 
he  endeavoured  to  gain  a  more  chaste  and  correct  outline  by  copying, 
and,  as  it  is  said,  by  tracing  the  outlines  of  drawings  that  were  excel- 
lent in  that  respect,  could  never  overcome  his  original  bias.  Indeed,  it 
may  admit  of  some  doubt  whether  a  strict  attention  to  such  excellences  be 
compatible  with  that  peculiar  spirit  and  effect  which  his  works  display ; 
and  whether  he  might  not  have  lost  more  on  one  side  than  he  would  have 
gained  on  the  other.  Much  certainly  may  be  done  by  early  and  con- 
stant practice,  but  correctness  and  purity  are  allied  to  caution  and 
timidity ;  and,  to  be  in  a  high  degree  correct  and  chaste  in  form, 
spirited  in  touch,  rich  in  colouring,  and  splendid  in  effect,  is  a  combina- 
tion of  which  the  art  of  painting,  since  its  revival,  can  hardly  be  said 
to  have  given  any  perfect  example. 

As  the  most  exquisite  of  the  ancient  statues  are  the  acknowledged 
standards  of  grandeur  and  beauty  of  form,  combined  with  purity  and 
correctness  of  outline,  so  the  painters  who  have  most  formed  themselves 
on  those  models,  however  they  may  have  departed  from  them  in  certain 
points,  are  most  distinguished  for  some  of  those  excellences.  But  one 
very  material  difference  between  sculpture  and  painting,  must  always 
be  taken  into  consideration.  In  sculpture,  the  whole  work  being  of 
one  uniform  colour,  and  the  figures,  whether  single  or  grouped,  without 
any  accompaniments,  there  is  nothing  to  seduce  or  distract  the  eye 
from  the  form,  to  which,  therefore,  the  efforts  of  the  sculptor  are  almost 
exclusively  directed ;  whereas,  in  painting,  the  charm  of  general  effect 
or  impression,  of  whatever  kind  it  may  be,  will  often  counterbalance 
the  greatest  defects  in  point  of  form,  and  make  amends  for  the  want  of 
grandeur,  beauty,  and  correctness. 

The  grandest  style  of  painting  is  generally  allowed  to  be  that  of  the 
Roman  and  Florentine  schools ;  and  among  the  works  produced  by 
them,  the  fresco  paintings  of  Michael  Angelo  and  Raphael  claim  the 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


121 


first  place.  Nearly  the  same  rank  may  be  assigned  to  the  pictures  in 
oil  of  the  same  schools,  in  which,  according  to  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  the 
full  unmixed  colours,  the  distinct  blues,  reds,  and  yellows,  very  much 
conduce  to  the  general  grandeur.  The  style  of  these  schools  is  more 
congenial  to  sculpture  than  that  of  any  other ;  as  the  great  masters  by 
which  they  were  rendered  so  illustrious,  directed  their  chief  attention 
to  the  same  objects  as  the  sculptors,  and  either  rejected,  or  very  spar- 
ingly admitted  those  captivating  charms  belonging  to  their  own  art, 
of  which  the  other  schools  have  so  much  availed  themselves.  This  is 
particularly  the  case  with  Michael  Angel o,  himself  a  statuary,  and  at 
least  as  eminent  in  sculpture  as  in  painting.  He  worked  almost  entirely 
in  fresco,  the  grandeur  of  which  was  so  suited  to  his  genius,  that  he  is 
said  to  have  declared,  after  a  single  trial  in  oil,  that  oil-painting  was 
fit  only  for  women.  His  works,  as  it  may  well  be  supposed,  have  no- 
thing of  sensual  attraction  ;  and  the  same  thing  may  be  said  in  a  great 
measure  of  the  other  masters  of  his  and  the  Roman  school.  Their  colour- 
ing— however  well  adapted  to  the  character  of  their  figures  and  compo- 
sitions, however  it  may  satisfy  the  judgment — has  little  to  please  the 
eye ;  and  I  should  conceive  that  if  it  were  applied  to  objects  divested 
of  grandeur  and  dignity,  the  union  would  appear  incongruous,  and  that 
the  affinity  I  mentioned  between  the  grand  style  of  painting  and  sculp- 
ture would  be  still  more  evident,  from  their  being  almost  equally  unlit 
to  represent  objects  merely  picturesque. 

The  Venetian  style,  on  the  other  hand,  in  which  there  is  a  greater 
variety  of  colours,  and  those  broken  and  blended  into  each  other,  is  in 
itself  extremely  attractive  from  its  richness,  glow,  and  harmony :  it 
gives  a  sort  of  consequence  and  elevation  to  objects  the  most  simply 
picturesque,  yet  preserves  their  just  character.  One  painter  of  this 
school  must  in  some  measure  be  considered  separately  from  the  rest  ; 
for,  when  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  speaks  of  the  Venetian  style  as  orna- 
mental or  picturesque,  and  consequently,  according  to  the  principles  he 
has  laid  down,  less  suited  to  grandeur,  he  makes  an  exception  in  favour 
of  Titian ;  and  the  grounds  on  which  he  makes  it  very  clearly  explain 
his  ideas  of  the  distinction  between  grandeur  and  picturesqueness.  In 
comparing  a  picture  of  that  master  with  one  of  Rubens,  he  opposes  the 
regularity  and  uniformity,  the  quiet  solemn  majesty  in  the  work  of  the 
Venetian,  to  the  bustle  and  animation,  and  to  the  picturesque  disposition 
in  that  of  the  Flemish  master.* 

As  the  ornamental  style  of  the  Venetians,  and  of  Rubens,  who  formed 


*  Note  -2.") tli  on  Du  Fresnoi. 


122 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


himself  upon  it,  bears  a  nearer  relation  to  the  beautiful  than  to  the 
grand,  so,  on  the  other  hand,  the  picturesque  style  where  ornament  is 
little  used,  as  in  the  works  of  Salvator  Rosa,  is  more  nearly  related  to 
grandeur,  The  style  of  Salvator  and  that  of  Rembrandt,  though  widely 
different,  resemble  each  other  in  one  particular — in  each  the  strokes  of 
the  pencil  are  often  left  in  the  roughest  manner ;  and  as  nothing  can  be 
more  adapted  to  strongly  marked  picturesque  objects  and  effects,  so  no- 
thing  can  be  less  suited  to  express  beauty,  and  to  convey  a  general  im- 
pression of  that  character.  What  is  the  style  most  truly  productive  of 
that  general  impression,  will  be  much  better  learnt  from  the  words  of  Sir 
Joshua  Reynolds,  than  from  any  thing  I  could  say,  though  he  had  not 
exactly  the  same  point  in  view.  Speaking  of  Correggio,  he  says — "  His 
colour  and  his  mode  of  finishing  approach  nearer  to  perfection  than  those 
of  any  other  painter ;  the  gliding  motion  of  his  outline,  and  the  sweetness 
with  which  it  melts  into  the  ground,  the  clearness  aud  transparency  of 
his  colouring,  which  stops  at  that  exact  medium  in  which  the  purity 
and  perfection  of  taste  lies,  leave  nothing  to  be  wished  for." 

If  there  be  any  style  of  painting,  which,  in  contra-distinction  to  the 
others,  might  justly  be  called  the  beautiful  style,  that  of  Correggio  has 
certainly,  from  this  description,  the  best  pretensions  to  the  title ;  but, 
as  that  word  is  so  commonly  used  merely  to  signify  excellent,  and  as  in 
that  sense  all  styles  which  are  suited  to  the  subject,  and  all  pictures 
which  give  a  just  and  impressive  representation  of  the  objects,  (though 
the  most  hideous  and  disgusting,)  are  equally  beautiful,  Sir  Joshua 
might  naturally  have  declined  giving  it  that  name,  even  supposing  him 
inclined  to  make  such  a  distinction.  He  seems,  however,  in  some  degree 
to  have  indicated  it ;  first,  by  what  he  says  of  Guido's  manner  being 
particularly  adapted  to  express  female  beauty  and  delicacy ;  and, 
secondly,  by  the  whole  account  of  the  manner  of  Correggio,  which,  it 
must  be  observed,  he  has  not  classed  either  with  the  ornamental  or  with 
the  grand  style.  He  remarks,  indeed,  in  another  place,  that  it  has 
something  of  the  simplicity  of  the  grand  style  in  the  breadth  of  the 
light  and  shadow,  and  the  continued  flow  of  outline ;  but  no  person,  I 
think,  who  reads  the  description  of  it  just  quoted,  can  doubt  that,  having 
neither  the  solemnity  and  severity  of  the  grand,  nor  the  richness  and 
splendour  of  the  ornamental  style,  it  must  have  a  separate  character  in 
a  high  degree  appropriate  to  what  is  simply  beautiful ;  and  may  equally 
witli  them  (though  that  is  a  consideration  of  much  less  importance)  lay 
claim  to  a  distinct  title. 

It  is  no  small  confirmation  of  all  that  I  have  advanced  in  the  early 
part  of  this  chapter,  to  find  that  each  style  of  painting  corresponds  with 


OX  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


123 


the  characteristic  marks  of  the  grand,  the  beautiful,  and  the  picturesque 
in  real  objects ;  and  I  trust  that  the  different  shades  of  distinction  that 
have  been  noticed,  will  be  found  consistent  with  the  general  principles. 
The  style  of  the  Venetians  and  of  Pietro  da  Cortona,  will  not  accord 
with  the  grand  character,  on  account  of  its  splendour,  its  gaiety,  and 
profusion  of  ornaments  ;  and  the  reproof  of  Apelles  may  show,  that  such 
a  profusion  is  not  adapted  to  beauty,  though  more  congenial  to  it  than 
to  graudeur.  Again,  the  style  of  Salvator  Rosa,  Rembrandt.  Spagnolet, 
Caravaggio.  which  have  a  greater  affinity  to  grandeur,  are  ill  suited 
to  beauty,  from  qualities  notoriously  adverse  to  that  character  ;  for  who 
would  wish  to  have  the  dark  shadows  of  Caravaggio  or  Rembrandt,  or 
the  bold  touches  of  Salvator  or  Spagnolet,  employed  on  nymphs  and 
sleeping  cupids  ? — or,  on  the  other  hand,  the  fresh  and  tender  hues  of 
Albano,  or  the  sweetness  of  Correggio's  pencilling  and  colouring,  on 
executioners,  sea-monsters,  and  banditti  \ 


124 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


CHAPTER  VII. 

The  various  effects  in  painting  which  have  been  discussed  in  the  last 
chapter,  naturally  lead  me  to  that  great  principle  of  the  art,  breadth 
of  light  and  shadow.  What  is  called  breadth,  seems  to  bear  nearly  the 
same  relation  to  light  and  shadow,  as  smoothness  does  to  material  ob- 
jects ;  for,  as  a  greater  degree  of  irritation  arises  from  uneven  surfaces, 
and  from  those  most  of  all  which  are  broken  into  little  inequalities,  so 
all  lights  and  shadows  which  are  interrupted  and  scattered,  are  in- 
finitely more  irritating  than  those  which  are  broad  and  continued. 
Every  person  of  the  least  observation  must  have  remarked  how  broad 
the  lights  and  shadows  are  on  a  fine  evening  in  nature,  or  (what  is 
almost  the  same  thing)  in  a  picture  of  Claude.  He  must  equally  have 
remarked  the  extreme  difference  between  such  lights  and  shadows,  and 
those  which  sometimes  disgrace  the  works  of  painters,  in  other  respects 
of  great  excellence ;  and  which  prevail  in  nature,  when  the  sunbeams, 
refracted  and  dispersed  in  every  direction  by  a  number  of  white  flicker- 
ing clouds,  create  a  perpetually  shifting  glare,  and  keep  the  eye  in  a 
state  of  constant  irritation.  All  such  accidental  effects  arising  from 
clouds,  though  they  strongly  show  the  general  principle,  and  are  highly 
proper  to  be  studied  by  all  lovers  of  painting  or  of  nature,  yet  not 
being  subject  to  our  control,  are  of  less  use  to  improvers ;  a  great  deal, 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


125 


however,  is  subject  to  our  control,  and  I  believe  we  may  lay  it  down 
as  a  very  general  maxim,  that  in  proportion  as  the  objects  are  scattered, 
unconnected,  and  in  patches,  the  lights  and  shadows  will  be  so  too,  and 
vice  versa. 

If,  for  instance,  we  suppose  a  continued  sweep  of  hills,  either  entirely 
wooded,  or  entirely  bare,  to  be  under  the  influence  of  a  low  cloudless 
sun — whatever  parts  are  exposed  to  that  sun,  will  have  one  broad  light 
upon  them  ;  whatever  are  hid  from  it,  one  broad  shade.  If,  again,  we 
suppose  the  wood  to  have  been  thinned  in  such  a  manner,  as  to  have 
left  masses,  groups,  and  single  trees,  so  disposed  as  to  present  a  pleasing 
and  connected  whole,  though  with  detached  parts ;  or  the  bare  hills  to 
have  been  planted  in  the  same  style — the  variety  of  light  and  shadow 
will  be  greatly  increased,  and  the  general  breadth  still  be  preserved  : 
nor  would  that  breadth  be  injured  if  an  old  ruin,  a  cottage,  or  any  build- 
ing of  a  quiet  tint  were  discovered  among  the  trees.  But  if  the  wood 
were  so  thinned,  as  to  have  a  poor,  scattered,  unconnected  appearance  ; 
or  the  hills  planted  with  clumps  and  detached  trees — the  lights  and 
shadows  would  have  the  same  broken  and  disjointed  effect  as  the  objects 
themselves ;  and  if  to  this  were  added  any  harsh  contrast,  such  as  clumps 
of  firs  and  white  buildings,  the  irritation  would  be  greatly  increased. 
In  all  these  cases,  the  eye,  instead  of  reposing  on  one  broad,  connected 
whole,  is  stopt  and  harassed  by  little  disunited,  discordant  parts.  I  of 
course  suppose  the  sun  to  act  on  these  different  objects  with  equal  splen- 
dour ;  for  there  are  some  days  when  the  whole  sky  is  so  full  of  jarring 
lights,  that  the  shadiest  groves  and  avenues  hardly  preserve  their  solem- 
nity ;  and  there  are  others,  when  the  atmosphere,  like  the  last  glazing 
of  a  picture,  softens  into  mellowness  whatever  is  crude  throughout  the 
landscape. 

Milton,  whose  eyes  seem  to  have  been  most  sensibly  affected  by  every 
accident  and  gradation  of  light,  (arid  that  possibly  in  a  great  degree 
from  the  weakness,  and  consequently  the  irritability  of  those  organs,) 
speaks  always  of  twilight  with  peculiar  pleasure.  He  has  even  reversed 
what  Socrates  did  by  philosophy ;  he  has  called  up  twilight  from  earth, 
and  placed  it  in  heaven  : 

"  From  that  high  mount  of  God,  whence  light  and  shade 
Spring  forth,  the  face  of  hrightest  heaven  had  changed 
To  grateful  twilight." 

What  is  also  singular,  he  has  in  this  passage  made  shade  an  essence 
equally  with  light,  not  merely  a  privation  of  it ;  a  compliment,  never,  I 
believe,  paid  to  shadow  before,  but  which  might  be  expected  from  his 
aversion  to  glare,  so  frequently  and  so  strongly  expressed  : 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


"  Hide  mo  from  day's  garish  eye.11 — 
"  When  the  sun  begins  to  fling 
His  flaring  beams.11 

The  peculiarity  of  the  effect  of  twilight  is  to  soften  and  mellow.  At 
that  delightful  time,  even  artificial  water,  however  naked,  edgy,  and 
tame  its  hanks,  will  often  receive  a  momentary  charm  ;  for  then  all  that 
is  scattered  and  cutting,  all  that  disgusts  a  painter's  eye,  is  blended 
together  in  one  broad  and  soothing  harmony  of  light  and  shadow.  I 
have  more  than  once  at  such  a  moment,  happened  to  arrive  at  a  place 
entirely  new  to  me,  and  have  been  struck  in  the  highest  degree  with 
the  appearance  of  wood,  water,  and  buildings,  that  seemed  to  accompany 
and  set  off  each  other  in  the  happiest  manner ;  and  I  felt  quite  impa- 
tient to  examine  all  these  beauties  by  daylight : 

"  At  length  the  morn,  and  cold  indifference  came.11 

The  charm  which  held  them  together,  and  made  them  act  so  powerfully 
as  a  whole,  had  vanished. 

It  may,  perhaps,  be  said  that  the  imagination,  from  a  few  imperfect 
hints,  often  forms  beauties  which  have  no  existence,  and  that  indifference 
may  naturally  arise  from  those  phantoms  not  being  realised.  I  am  far 
from  denying  the  power  of  partial  concealment  and  obscurity  on  the 
imagination ;  but  in  these  cases,  the  set  of  objects  when  seen  by  twilight, 
is  beautiful  as  a  picture,  and  would  appear  highly  so  if  exactly  repre- 
sented on  the  canvass  ;  but  in  full  daylight,  the  sun,  as  it  were,  decom- 
pounds what  had  been  so  happily  mixed  together,  and  separates  a 
striking  whole  into  detached  unimpressive  parts. 

Nothing,  I  believe,  would  be  of  more  service  in  forming  a  taste  for 
general  effect,  and  general  composition,  than  to  examine  the  same  scenes 
in  the  full  distinctness  of  day,  and  again  after  sunset.  In  fact,  twilight 
does  what  an  improver  ought  to  do  :  it  connects  what  was  before 
scattered  ;  it  fills  up  staring,  meagre  vacancies  ;  it  destroys  edginess  ; 
and  by  giving  shadow  as  well  as  light  to  water,  at  once  increases  both 
its  brilliancy  and  softness.  It  must,  however,  be  observed,  that  twi- 
light, while  it  takes  off  the  edginess  of  those  objects  which  are  below 
the  horizon,  more  sensibly  marks  the  outline  of  those  which  are  above  it, 
and  opposed  to  the  sky ;  and  consequently  discovers  the  defects  as  well 
as  the  beauties  of  their  forms.  From  this  circumstance  improvers  may 
learn  a  very  useful  lesson — that  the  outline  against  the  sky  should  be 
particularly  attended  to,  so  that  nothing  lumpy,  meagre,  or  discordant 
should  be  there  ;  for  at  all  times,  in  such  a  situation,  the  form  is  made 
out,  but  most  of  all  when  twilight  has  melted  the  other  parts  together. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


127 


At  that  time,  many  varied  groups  and  elegant  shapes  of  trees,  which 
were  scarcely  noticed  in  the  more  general  diffusion  of  light,  distinctly 
appear ;  then,  too,  the  stubborn  clump,  which  before  was  but  too  plainly 
seen,  makes  a  still  fouler  blot  on  the  horizon  :  while  there  is  a  glimmer- 
ing of  light  he  maintains  his  post,  nor  yields,  till  even  his  blackness  is 
at  last  confounded  in  the  general  blackness  of  night. 

These  are  the  powers  and  effects  of  that  breadth  which  I  have  been 
describing,  and  which  may  justly  be  considered  as  a  source  of  visual 
pleasure  distinct  from  all  others ;  for  objects,  which  in  themselves  are 
neither  beautiful,  nor  sublime,  nor  picturesque,  are  incidentally  made  to 
delight  the  eye,  from  their  being  productive  of  breadth.  This  seems  to 
account  for  the  pleasure  we  receive  from  many  massive,  heavy  objects, 
which,  when  deprived  of  the  effect  of  that  harmonizing  principle,  and 
considered  singly,  are  even  positively  ugly.  Such,  indeed,  is  the  effect 
of  breadth,  that  pictures  or  drawings  eminently  possessed  of  it,  though 
they  should  have  no  other  merit,  will  always  attract  the  attention  of  a 
cultivated  eye ;  while  others,  where  the  detail  is  admirable,  but  where 
this  master-principle  is  wanting,  will  often,  at  the  first  view,  be  passed 
by  without  notice.  The  mind,  however,  requires  to  be  stimulated  as 
well  as  soothed,  and  there  is  in  this,  as  in  so  many  other  instances, 
a  strong  analogy  between  painting  and  music  :  the  first  effect  of  mere 
breadth  of  light  and  shadow  is  to  the  eye,  what  that  of  mere  harmony 
of  sounds  is  to  the  ear ;  both  produce  a  pleasing  repose — a  calm  sober 
delight — which,  if  not  relieved  by  something  less  uniform,  soon  sinks 
into  distaste  and  weariness  :  for  repose  and  sleep,  which  are  often  used 
as  synonymous  terms,  are  always  nearly  allied.  Cut  as  the  principle  of 
harmony  must  be  preserved  in  the  wildest  and  most  eccentric  pieces  of 
music — in  those  where  sudden,  and  quickly  varying  emotions  of  the  soul 
are  expressed — so  must  that  of  breadth  be  equally  attended  to  in  scenes 
of  bustle  and  seeming  confusion  ;  in  those  where  the  wildest  scenery, 
or  most  violent  agitations  of  nature  are  represented ;  and  I  am  here 
tempted  to  parody  that  frequently  quoted  passage  of  Shakspeare — "  in 
the  very  torrent,  tempest,  and  whirlwind  of  the  elements,  the  artist,  in 
painting  them,  must  acquire  a  breadth  that  will  give  them  smoothness." 

There  is,  however,  no  small  difficulty  in  uniting  breadth  with  the 
detail,  the  splendid  variety,  and  marked  character  of  nature.  Claude 
is  admirable  in  this,  as  in  almost  every  other  respect :  with  the  greatest 
accuracy  of  detail,  and  truth  of  character,  his  pictures  have  the  breadth 
of  the  simplest  washed  drawing,  or  aquatinta  print,  where  little  else  is 
expressed  or  intended.  In  a  strong  light,  they  are  full  of  interesting 
and  entertaining  particulars;  and  as  twilight  comes  on,  I  have  often 


1  28  SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 

observed  in  them  the  same  gradual  fading  of  the  glimmering  landscape, 
as  in  real  nature. 

This  art  of  preserving  breadth  with  detail  and  brilliancy,  has  been 
studied  with  great  success  by  Teniers,  Jan  Steen,  and  many  of  the  Dutch 
masters.  Ostade's  pictures  and  etchings  are  among  the  happiest  ex- 
amples of  it ;  but,  above  all  others,  the  works  of  that  scarce  and  wonder- 
ful master,  Gerard  Dow.  His  eye  seems  to  have  had  a  microscopic 
power  in  regard  to  the  minute  texture  of  objects,  (for  in  his  paintings 
they  bear  the  severe  trial  of  the  strongest  magnifier,)  and,  at  the  same 
time,  the  opposite  faculty  of  excluding  all  particulars  with  respect  to 
breadth  and  general  effect.  His  master,  Rembrandt,  did  not  attend  to 
minute  detail ;  but  by  that  peculiar  and  commanding  manner,  which 
marked  with  equal  force  and  justness  the  leading  character  of  each  ob- 
ject, he  produced  an  idea  of  detail,  much  beyond  what  is  really  ex- 
pressed. Many  of  the  great  Italian  masters  have  done  this  also,  and 
with  a  taste,  a  grandeur,  and  a  nobleness  of  style,  unknown  to  the  in- 
ferior schools,  though  none  have  exceeded,  or  perhaps  equalled  Rem- 
brandt, in  truth,  force,  and  effect.  But  when  artists,  neglecting  the 
variety  of  detail,  and  those  characteristic  features  that  well  supply  its 
place,  content  themselves  with  mere  breadth,  and  propose  that  as  the 
final  object  of  attainment — their  productions,  and  the  interest  excited 
by  them,  will  be,  in  comparison  of  the  styles  I  have  mentioned,  what  a 
metaphysical  treatise  is  to  Shakspeare  or  Fielding ;  they  will  be  rather 
illustrations  of  a  principle,  than  representations  of  what  is  real ;  a  sort 
of  abstract  idea  of  nature,  not  very  unlike  Crambe's  abstract  idea  of  a 
lord  mayor. 

As  nothing  is  more  flattering  to  the  vanity  and  indolence  of  man- 
kind, than  the  being  able  to  produce  a  pleasing  general  effect  with  little 
labour  or  study,  so  nothing  more  obstructs  the  progress  of  the  art,  than 
such  a  facility.  Yet  still  these  abstracts  are  by  no  means  without  their 
comparative  merit,  and  they  have  their  use  as  well  as  their  danger ;  they 
show  how  much  may  be  effected  by  the  mere  naked  principle,  and  the 
great  superiority  which  that  alone  can  give  to  whatever  is  formed  upon 
it,  over  those  things  which  are  done  on  no  principle  at  all — where  the 
separate  objects  are  set  down,  as  it  were,  article  by  article — and  where 
the  confusion  of  lights  so  perplexes  the  eye,  that  one  might  suppose  the 
artist  had  looked  at  them  through  a  multiplying  glass. 

I  may,  perhaps,  be  thought  to  have  dwelt  longer  on  this  article  than 
the  principal  design  of  my  book  seemed  to  require ;  but  although — as 
I  mentioned  in  a  former  part — the  study  of  light  and  shadow  appears, 
at  first  sight,  to  belong  exclusively  to  the  painter,  yet,  like  every  thing 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE.  129 

which  relates  to  that  charming  art,  it  will  be  found  of  infinite  service 
to  the  improver.  Indeed,  the  violations  of  this  principle  of  breadth 
and  harmony  of  light  and  shadow,  are,  perhaps,  more  frequent,  and 
more  disgustingly  offensive  than  those  of  any  other. 

Many  people  seem  to  have  a  sort  of  callus  over  their  organs  of  sight, 
as  others  over  those  of  hearing ;  and  as  the  callous  hearers  feel  nothing 
in  music  but  kettle-drums  and  trombones,  so  the  callous  seers  can  only 
be  moved  by  strong  oppositions  of  black  and  white,  or  by  fiery  reds. 
I  am  therefore  so  far  from  laughing  at  Mr.  Locke's  blind  man  for 
likening  scarlet  to  the  sound  of  a  trumpet,  that  I  think  he  had  great 
reason  to  pride  himself  on  the  discovery- 
It  might  well  be  supposed,  that  the  natural  colour  of  brick  was  suffi- 
ciently stimulating ;  but  I  have  seen  brick  houses  painted  of  so  much 
more  flaming  a  red,  that,  according  to  Mr.  Brown's  expression,  they 
put  the  whole  vale  in  a  fever.  White,  though  glaring,  has  not  that 
hot  sultry  appearance ;  and  there  is  such  a  look  of  neatness  and  gaiety 
in  it,  that  we  cannot  be  surprised,  if,  where  lime  is  cheap,  only  one 
idea  should  prevail — that  of  making  every  thing  as  white  as  possible. 
Wherever  this  is  the  case,  the  whole  landscape  is  full  of  little  spots, 
which  can  only  be  made  pleasing  to  a  painter's  eye,  by  their  being 
almost  buried  in  trees ;  but  where  a  country  is  without  natural  wood, 
and  is  improved  by  dint  of  white-wash  and  clumps  of  firs,  a  painter, 
were  he  confined  there,  would  be  absolutely  driven  to  despair,  and  feel 
ready  to  renounce,  not  only  his  art,  but  his  eyesight. 

One  of  the  most  charming  effects  of  sunshine,  is  its  giving  to  objects, 
not  merely  light,  but  that  mellow  golden  hue  so  beautiful  in  itself,  and 
which,  when  diffused,  as  in  a  fine  evening,  over  the  whole  landscape, 
creates  that  rich  union  and  harmony,  so  enchanting  in  nature  and  in 
Claude :  in  any  scene,  whether  real  or  painted,  where  such  harmony 
prevails,  the  least  discordancy  in  colour  would  disturb  the  eye ;  but  if 
we  suppose  a  single  object  of  a  glaring  white  to  be  introduced,  the 
whole  attention,  in  spite  of  all  our  efforts  to  the  contrary,  will  be 
drawn  to  that  one  point ;  if  many  such  objects  be  scattered  about,  the 
eye  will  be  distracted  among  them.  From  that  analogy  so  often  men- 
tioned, it  is  usual  to  say  that  an  object  in  a  picture,  or  in  nature,  is  out 
of  tune.  The  expression  is  perfectly  just — in  music,  one  such  note  will 
invincibly  fix  our  attention  upon  it,  and  several  distract  it ;  and,  in 
either  case,  it  is  impossible  to  enjoy  the  harmony  of  the  rest.  There 
is,  indeed,  one  essential  difference ;  a  passing  note,  however  false,  is 
quickly  over,  but  a  glaring  object  is  like  an'  eternal  holding  note  held 
firmly  out  of  tune,  and  which,  in  that  case,  well  deserves  the  name  an 


130 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


unmusical  friend  once  gave  to  holding-  notes  in  general — "  I  don't 
know  what  you  call  them,"  said  he,  "  I  mean  one  of  those  long  noises." 

Again — to  consider  this  part  of  the  subject  in  another  view — -when 
the  sun  breaks  out  in  gleams,  there  is  something  that  delights  and  sur- 
prises, in  seeing  an  object,  before  only  visible,  lighted  up  in  splendour, 
and  then  gradually  sinking  into  shade ;  but  a  whitened  object  is  al- 
ready lighted  up — it  remains  so  when  every  thing  has  retired  into  ob- 
scurity— it  still  forces  itself  into  notice — still  impudently  stares  you  in 
the  face. 

certain  circumstances  I  hold  this  observation  to  be  very  just.  But, 
when  richly  embosomed  in  trees,  I  conceive  that  white  buildings  often 
give  the  liveliest  and  most  sparkling  effect  to  scenery.  Of  this  fact,  any 
one  who  has  visited  Italy,  and  particularly  the  Italian  lakes,  must  be 
perfectly  persuaded  by  experience.  See,  for  example,  how  the  shores 
of  the  Lakes  of  Maggiore,  Lugano,  and  Como,  are  clustered  with  little 
towns  of  the  purest  white,  that  appear  like  strings  of  orient  pearls, 
between  the  blue  water  in  which  they  are  reflected,  and  the  deep  woods 
which  cluster  interminably  over  them,  whence  every  now  and  then  some 
prominent  rock  rears  its  head,  to  be  crowned  with  some  convent  or 
villa  of  the  same  hue,  whilst  every  jutting  promontory  below  is  orna- 
mented by  some  such  gem  of  human  workmanship.  Over  these  the 
full  Italian  sun  pours  forth  his  unshorn  splendour,  giving  so  universal  a 
tone  of  brilliancy  to  the  whole  fairy  scene,  as  to  bring  all  its  parts  into 
perfect  harmony.  I  am  quite  aware  that  Claude  himself  in  painting 
such  a  scene,  would  have  felt  it  necessary  to  subdue  and  keep  down  the 
intensity  of  many  of  these  touches  of  white.  But  the  art  of  a  painter 
consists  in  the  very  exercise  of  the  knowledge  of  what  ought  to  be  sub- 
dued in  a  picture,  and  what  ought  to  be  brought  prominently  forward. 
He  seldom,  or  rather,  I  should  say,  he  never  finds  this  ready  done  for 
him  in  nature.  He  must  do  it  for  himself ;  and  I  fear  much  that,  if 
the  landscape  gardener  were  to  direct  the  whole  of  his  attention  to 
making  perfect  pictures  for  the  artist,  he  would  very  much  lose  his  time 
and  labour.  This  remark  is  not  inconsistent  with  my  firm  belief  in  the 
great  advantage  which  landscape  gardeners  will  gain  by  the  extensive 
study  of  pictures,  in  perfecting  them  in  the  art  of  improving  general 
effects.  All  I  contend  for  is,  that  we  must  not  suppose  that  nothing 
can  give  us  pleasure  in  nature  which  is  not  capable  of  producing  a  good 
effect  upon  canvass  when  painted  just  as  it  is.  Using  the  term  in  the 
Italian  sense,  I  think  I  am  not  altogether  unblessed  with  I'occhio  pit- 
toresco.  But  be  this  as  it  may,  as  I  floated  over  the  smooth  surface  of 
Lugano  or  Como — although  I  failed  not  to  drink  in,  with  a  never 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


131 


satiated  thirst,  the  exhaustless  beauties  with  which  nature  had  so  liber- 
ally surrounded  me — although  I  was  never  tired  with  admiring  the 
iu finite  variety  of  form  and  colour,  which  the  margin  of  the  lake  exhi- 
bited in  its  rocks,  and  headlands,  and  mysteriously  receding  bays  and 
inlets,  whilst  they  shifted  and  moved  upon  one  another,  as  the  boat 
glided  past  them — although  my  eye  at  one  time  would  sink  in  luxurious 
refreshment  into  the  richly  tufted  recesses  among  the  noble  trees,  and 
then  again  soar  upwards  with  eagle  flight  over  the  undulating  surface 
of  the  hanging  woods  above,  to  skim  with  exultation  over  the  bare  and 
prominent  crags,  to  the  very  summits  of  the  mountains — yet  it  still  would 
turn  with  unspeakable  delight  to  rest  upon  those  white  buildings,  the 
very  sight  of  which  awakened  within  me  a  thousand  interesting  associa- 
tions with  man — his  happiness — his  trials — his  pains — his  pleasures — 
and  his  passions ;  whilst  the  gay  sun  reminded  me  that  I  was  in  the 
fascinating  climate  of  Italy,  and  I  here  had  the  satisfaction  of  thinking, 
that  my  estimate  of  its  advantages  was  not  to  be  reduced  by  the  miser- 
able examples  of  poverty  and  disease,  by  which  the  eyes  of  the  traveller 
are  but  too  frequently  shocked  in  other  parts  of  the  same  country.  Here 
I  knew  that  early  industry  and  prudence  had  produced  comparative 
wealth  and  comfort.  I  was  well  aware  that  the  greater  part  of  those  Little 
sparkling  habitations  that  studded  the  shore,  owed  their  creation  to  the 
industrious  habits  of  the  youth  of  these  districts,  who,  leaving  their  homes 
in  early  life  with  a  small  stock  of  prints,  looking-glasses,  and  barome- 
ters, wander  wearily  over  the  European  world,  exposed  to  all  the  perils 
and  vicissitudes  of  weather  and  of  fortune,  until  their  small  but  certain 
gains,  husbanded  by  sobriety  and  frugality,  enable  them  to  return  with 
a  sum  which,  though  little  in  itself,  is  wealth  to  them  in  these  simple 
and  unsophisticated  regions — seeing  that  it  enables  them  to  become  pro- 
prietors of  their  native  soil,  by  the  purchase  of  some  small  and  pic- 
turesque spot  of  land,  whereon  to  build  a  commodious  and  tasteful 
dwelling.  There,  after  uniting  themselves  to  the  objects  of  their  early 
affections,  for  whom  their  constant  attachment  has  never  varied,  in  de- 
fiance of  all  the  blandishments  to  which  they  may  have  been  exposed 
from  women  of  all  countries,  they  sit  down  contented,  and  full  of  grati- 
tude to  a  beneficent  God,  to  spend  the  remainder  of  their  lives  in  ease 
and  contentment,  and  to  rear  up  a  virtuous  progeny,  to  go  forth  and 
return  as  their  fathers  had  done.  Filled  with  such  reflections  as  these, 
how  was  it  possible  that  I  could  have  wished  the  white  buildings  of 
( lomo  or  Lugano  to  have  been  brought  out  less  distinctly  to  my  view? 

But  with  all  this,  I  am,  at  the  same  time,  disposed  to  be  of  Sir  Uve- 
dale  Price's  opinion,  that  there  are  many  occasions  in  which  white— 


132 


SIR  LIVED  ALE  PRICE 


that  is  positive  and  absolute  dead  white — docs  stare  you  most  impudently 
in  the  face  in  landscape.  But  whilst  this  is  admitted,  we  must,  at  the 
same  time,  remember  that  there  is  no  colour  that  may  not  be  made  to 
appear  offensive  by  being  brought  into  improper  contrast  with  others, 
and  so  producing  a  jar  of  mental  association  ;  and,  moreover,  we  must 
bear  in  mind,  that  such  a  thing  as  positive  and  absolute  dead  white  is 
rarely  to  be  met  with — and  still  more  rarely  to  be  seen — under  so  glar- 
ing an  effect  as  will  fully  bring  out  its  native  hue,  unmellowed  by  the 
influence  of  air  or  sky. — E.] 

A  cottage  of  a  quiet  colour  half  concealed  among  trees,  with  its  bit 
of  garden,  its  pales  and  orchard,  is  one  of  the  most  tranquil  and  sooth- 
ing of  all  rural  objects ;  when  the  sun  strikes  upon  it,  a  number  of 
lively  picturesque  circumstances  are  brought  into  view,  and  it  becomes 
one  of  the  most  cheerful ;  but  if  cleared  round,  and  whitened,  its 
modest  retired  character  is  gone,  and  is  succeeded  by  a  perpetual 
glare. 

An  object  of  a  sober  tint  unexpectedly  gilded  by  the  sun,  is  like 
a  serious  countenance  suddenly  lighted  up  by  a  smile — a  whitened 
object,  like  the  eternal  grin  of  a  fool.  Even  very  white  teeth — where 
excess  of  whiteness  is  least  to  be  feared — if  seen  too  much,  often  give 
a  kind  of  silly  look,  that  seems  to  belong  to  the  part  itself:  nothing 
can  be  more  characteristic  of  that  effect  than  Mr.  Walpole's  well 
known  expression  of  "  the  gentleman  with  the  foolish  teeth."  Those 
gentlemen  .who  deal  much  in  pure  white-wash,  might  well  be  distin- 
guished by  the  same  compliment  being  paid  to  their  buildings. 

I  wish,  however,  to  be  understood,  that  when  I  speak  of  white-wash 
and  whitened  buildings,  I  mean  that  glaring  white  which  is  produced 
by  lime  alone,  or  without  a  sufficient  quantity  of  any  lowering  in- 
gredient ;  for  there  cannot  be  a  greater,  or  a  more  immediate  improve- 
ment, than  that  of  giving  to  a  fiery  brick  building  the  tint  of  a  stone 
one.  No  person,  I  believe,  has  any  doubt  that  stone — such  as  Bath 
and  Portland,  and  many  others  which  pass  under  the  general  name  of 
free-stone — is  the  most  beautiful  material  for  building ;  and  I  imagine 
there  is  no  instance  of  an  architect's  having  painted  such  stones  white 
in  order  to  make  them  more  beautiful ;  though  dingy,  or  red  stone, 
may  sometimes  have  been  painted  of  a  free-stone  colour.  The  true 
object  of  imitation  seems  therefore  to  be  the  tint  of  a  beautiful  stone ; 
and  if  those  who  whiten  their  buildings  would  pique  themselves  on 
matching  exactly  the  colour  of  Bath,  or  Portland  stone,  so  as  to  be 
neither  whiter  nor  yellower,  the  greatest  neatness  and  gaiety  might 
prevail,  without  crudencss  or  glare. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


133 


Such  an  improvement,  however,  should  chiefly  be  confined  to  fiery 
brick ;  for  when  brick  becomes  weather-stained  and  mossy,  it  har- 
monises with  other  colours,  and  has  often  a  richness,  mellowness,  and 
variety  of  tint,  infinitely  pleasing  to  a  painter's  eye ;  for  the  cool 
colour  of  the  greenish  moss  lowers  the  fiery  quality ;  while  the  sub- 
dued fire  beneath  gives  a  glow  of  a  peculiar  character,  which  the 
painter  would  hardly  like  to  exchange  for  any  uniform  colour — much 
less  for  the  unmixed  whiteness  of  lime. 

Besides  the  glare,-  there  is  another  circumstance  which  often  renders 
white-wash  extremely  offensive  to  the  eye,  especially  when  it  is  ap- 
plied to  any  uneven  surface ;  and  that  is,  a  smeared,  dirty  appearance. 
This  is  the  case  where  decayed  or  rough  stone-work  is  dabbed  with 
lime,  while  the  dirt  is  left  between  the  crevices ;  as  likewise  where  the 
coarse  wood-work  that  separates  the  plastered  walls  of  a  cottage  is 
brushed  over,  as  well  as  the  smooth  walls  themselves :  in  these  cases, 
however,  the  objects  are  inconsiderable,  and  the  effect  in  proportion ; 
but  when  this  pitiful  taste  is  employed  upon  some  ancient  castle-like 
mansion,  or  the  mossy  weather-stained  tower  of  an  old  church,  it  be- 
comes a  sort  of  sacrilege.  Such  a  building  daubed  over  and  plastered 
is,  next  to  a  painted  old  woman,  the  most  disgusting  of  all  attempts  at 
improvement ;  on  both,  when  left  in  their  natural  state,  time  often 
stamps  a  pleasing  and  venerable  impression  ;  but  when  thus  sophisti- 
cated, they  have  neither  the  freshness  of  youth,  nor  the  mellow  pic- 
turesque character  of  age;  and,  instead  of  becoming  attractive,  are 
only  made  horribly  conspicuous. 

I  am  afraid  it  will  not  be  easy  to  check  the  general  passion  for  dis- 
tinctness and  conspicuity.  Each  prospect  hunter — a  very  numerous 
tribe — like  the  heroic  Ajax,  forms  but  one  prayer — 

Let  them  see  but  clearly,  and  see  enough,  they  are  content ;  and 
much  may  be  said  in  their  favour — composition,  grouping,  breadth  and 
effect  of  light  and  shadow,  harmony  of  colours,  &c.  are  comparatively 
attended  to  and  enjoyed  by  few ;  but  extensive  prospects  are  the  most 
popular  of  all  views,  and  their  respective  superiority  is  generally  de- 
cided by  the  number  of  churches  and  counties.  Distinctness  is  there- 
fore the  great  point.  A  painter  may  wish  several  hills  of  bad  shapes, 
and  thousands  of  uninteresting  acres  to  be  covered  with  one  general 
shade ;  but  to  him  who  is  to  reckon  up  his  counties,  the  loss  of  a  black 
or  a  white  spot,  of  a  clump  or  a  gazabo,  is  the  loss  of  a  voucher. 

Then,  again,  as  the  prospect-shower  has  great  pleasure  and  vanity  in 


134 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


pointing  out  these  vouchers,  so  the  improver,  on  his  side,  has  full  as 
much  in  being  pointed  at ;  we  therefore  cannot  wonder  that  so  many 
churches  have  been  converted  into  these  beacons  of  taste,  or  that  so 
many  hills  have  been  marked  with  them. 

[Xothing  can  be  more  detestable  in  taste  than  this  mode  of  marking 
out  distant  objects.  A  fine  ancient  Gothic  church  may  thus  be  utterly 
destroyed  in  all  its  most  venerable  associations,  and  one's  feelings  out- 
raged  on  a  near  approach  to  it,  by  beholding  it  converted  into  a  dirty 
w  hi  ted  sepulchre,  for  the  wretchedly  absurd  whim  of  some  vulgar  pro- 
prietor, whose  tea-canister  of  a  house  happens  to  stand  at  some  miles' 
distance,  and  whose  immense  liberality  of  purse  so  overpowers  the 
village  rustics,  that  they  are  led  to  talk  of  nothing  but  the  bounty  of 
the  Squire,  "who  has  so  handsomely  done  up  the  ould  church,  out  of  his 
own  pocket ! "  And  nothing  can  be  more  abominable  than  the  ignorant 
attempt  of  some  people  to  make  a  hill  more  conspicuous,  by  putting 
some  shocking  nine-pin  looking  erection  upon  the  summit  of  it.  I  have 
seen  many  instances  of  the  prejudicial  effects  of  this  practice,  but  one 
most  pregnant  example  of  it  continually  haunts  rae.  As  at  all  times  I 
am  unwilling  to  give  offence,  and  as  in  this  case  the  nobleman  who  was 
guilty  of  this  atrocity  in  taste  is  no  more,  I  shall  adhere  to  the  advice 
contained  in  the  proverb,  de  mortuis  nil  nisi  bonum.  But  whilst  I 
sink  all  names,  both  of  men  and  of  localities,  I  cannot  be  silent  as  to  the 
effects  produced.  The  scene  where  this  most  unfortunate  experiment 
was  tried,  is  a  wide  extended  highland  valley,  through  which  a  noble 
Fiver  finds  its  way.  It  is  every  where  bounded  by  lofty  elevations,  and 
on  one  side  by  the  highest  range  of  mountains  in  Scotland.  The  broad 
sketch  of  the  valley  is  singularly  undulated  and  varied  in  its  surface, 
which,  in  the  greater  part  of  it,  is  covered  with  forests,  chiefly  of  pine. 
A  view  of  it  from  an  eminence  gives  one  no  idea  of  the  endless  ravines, 
and  streams,  and  heights,  and  hollows,  many  of  them  filled  with  lakes, 
and  the  numerous  other  intricacies  which  every  where  present  them- 
Selves  to  any  one  traversing  its  surface  ;  but  there  are  two  beautiful 
green  hills,  covered  on  their  sides  with  birch  woods,  and  having  richly 
coloured  faces  of  rock,  and  castellated  crags  appearing  from  various 
parts  of  their  sides  and  tops,  which  rise  with  the  loveliest  forms  from 
the  midst  of  the  valley,  one  on  either  side  of  the  river,  proudly  pre-emi- 
nent over  every  other  part  of  the  lower  valley.  These,  from  their 
bold  shapes,  always  appeared  to  the  spectator  to  be  even  higher  than 
they  really  were,  and  large  as  the  scale  is  on  which  nature  is  here  to  be 
found,  this  somewhat  exaggerated  estimate  of  their  magnitude,  being  ap- 


UN  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


135 


plied  as  a  measure  to  the  surrounding  mountains,  was  even  capable  of 
adding,  by  comparison,  considerably  to  the  ideal  altitude  of  their  huge 
masses,  and  consequently  to  their  sublimity.  The  district  to  which  I 
allude  was  a  favourite  haunt  of  mine,  and  many  happy  days  have  I  spent 
revelling  in  its  scenery.  It  so  happened  that  circumstances  prevented 
me  from  visiting  it  for  a  considerable  time — when  I  returned  I  found 
that  a  miserable  erection  had  been  made  by  the  nobleman  to  whom  I 
have  alluded,  on  the  summit  of  one  of  the  two  beautiful  green  hills  I 
have  mentioned.  It  was  large  and  expensive,  but  all  this  was  just  so 
much  the  worse,  because  not  knowing  its  actual  size,  it  looked  to  me  to 
be  no  more  than  about  the  height  of  a  man,  and  my  eye  immediately 
measuring  the  hill  on  which  it  stood  by  that  scale,  it  dwindled  at  once 
down,  in  my  estimation,  to  less  than  one  third  of  its  real  height,  and 
still  more  when  compared  to  the  exaggerated  height  which  it  had  always 
formerly  maintained  in  my  belief.  But  this  was  not  the  only  withering 
effect  of  this  ill-judged,  ill-conceived,  and  ill-executed  piece  of  art,  for 
it  made  the  twin  green  hill  on  the  opposite  side  of  the  river  also  instan- 
taneously sink  in  height — the  broad  expanse  of  the  valley  itself,  with 
all  its  inequalities  and  intricacies  shrank  up  in  its  dimensions  in  a 
relative  degree — and  the  very  mountains,  once  of  elevation  so  sublime, 
were  reduced  in  altitude  and  magnitude  to  an  extent  which  I  could  not 
have  believed  possible  from  so  insignificant  a  cause.  And  there  on  the 
green  hill  top,  still  sits  this  wretched  abortion,  in  form  and  apparent  size 
very  much  resembling  an  old  witch  wrapped  in  her  plaid,  and  grinning 
as  it  were  with  delight,  in  the  consciousness  that  she  holds  the  whole 
scenery  of  this  grand  and  magnificent  valley  bound  up,  as  it  were,  in 
the  envious  spell  of  apparently  comparative  insignificance. — E.^] 


136 


SIR  UVKDALK  PRICK 


CHAPTER  VIII. 

I  ti  ave  hitherto  endeavoured  to  trace  the  picturesque  in  all  that  relates  to 
form,  and  to  the  effects  of  light  and  shade ;  I  have  endeavoured  to  dis- 
tinguish it  from  the  beautiful,  and  from  the  sublime ;  and  to  show  the 
influence  of-  breadth  on  them  all.  It  now  remains  to  examine  how  far 
the  same  general  principles  operate  with  regard  to  colours. 

Mr.  Burke's  idea  of  the  beautiful  in  colour  seems  to  me  in  the  high- 
est degree  satisfactory,  and  to  correspond  with  all  his  other  ideas  of 
beauty.  I  must  observe,  at  the  same  time,  that  the  beautiful  in  colour 
is  of  a  positive  and  independent  nature,  whereas  the  sublime  in  colour 
is  in  a  great  degree  relative,  and  depends  on  the  circumstances  and 
associations  by  which  it  is  accompanied.  A  beautiful  colour,  is  a  com- 
mon and  just  expression ;  no  one  hesitates  whether  he  shall  give  that 
title  to  the  leaf  of  a  rose,  or  to  the  smallest  bit  of  it ;  but  though  the 
deep  gloomy  tint  of  the  sky  before  a  storm,  and  its  effect  on  all  nature 
be  sublime,  no  one  would  call  that  colour,  (whether  a  dark  blue,  or 
purple,  or  whatever  it  might  be,)  a  sublime  colour,  if  simply  shown  him 
without  the  other  accompaniments. 

£Yet  let  us  test  this  opinion.  Let  us  suppose  that  a  fragment  of  the 
most  beautiful  rose  leaf  that  can  be  found  shall  be  applied  to  the  tip 
of  the  nose  of  a  lovely  young  woman,  in  a  manner  so  perfectly  natural 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


137 


as  to  lead  the  spectator  to  believe  that  the  hue  is  native  of  the  spot, 
and  essentially  belonging  to  it ;  how  would  the  eyes  of  all  strangers 
be  directed  askance  towards  it  with  curious  inquiry — and  how  would 
they  recoil  from  it  as  something  fearfully  strange  and  unnatural ! — 
There  can  be  no  doubt  that  rose-colour  has  acquired  its  beauty  in  the 
eyes  of  mankind  from  the  immediate  association  which  it  awakens  in 
every  one's  mind  with  the  rich  fragrance  of  the  flower  itself,  as  well  as 
with  the  endless  poetical  images  with  which  it  has  been  for  ages  con- 
nected. The  beautiful  in  colour  is  no  more  of  a  positive  and  indepen- 
dent nature,  then,  than  the  sublime  in  colour ;  and  the  picturesque  in 
colour  stands,  I  suspect,  on  the  same  grounds  as  the  other  two.  Yet  I 
do  not  quarrel  with  the  term  as  having  reference  to  colour,  more  than  I 
do  when  it  has  reference  to  form.  Though  it  never  can  distinctly  define 
in  either,  it  is  a  convenient  term  of  distinction  in  both  ;  and  Sir  Uvedale 
illustrates  this,  in  so  far  as  this  view  is  concerned,  with  great  ingenuity. 
-E.] 

I  likewise  imagine  that  no  one  would  call  any  colour  picturesque,  if 
shown  him  in  the  same  manner,  though  many  of  them  might,  without 
impropriety,  be  called  so  ;  for  there  are  many  which,  having  nothing 
of  the  freshness  and  delicacy  of  beauty,  are  generally  found  in  objects 
and  scenes  highly  picturesque,  and  admirably  accord  with  them.  Among 
these  may  be  reckoned  the  autumnal  hues  in  all  their  varieties — the 
weather-stains,  and  many  of  the  mosses,  lichens,  and  incrustations  on 
bark  and  on  wood,  on  stones,  old  walls,  and  buildings  of  every  kind — 
the  various  gradations  in  the  tints  of  broken  ground,  and  of  the  decayed 
parts  in  hollow  trees.  All  these,  which  surely  cannot  be  classed  with 
the  fresh  greens  of  spring,  with  the  various  hues,  at  once  so  fresh  and 
vivid,  of  its  flowers  and  blossoms,  or  with  those  of  the  clean  and  healthy 
stems  of  young  plants,  may  serve  to  point  out  in  how  many  instances 
picturesque  colours  as  well  as  forms  arise  from  age  and  decay.  There 
is,  indeed,  a  natural  prejudice  in  our  minds  against  all  that  is  produced 
by  such  causes ;  but  whoever  attentively  observes  in  nature  the  deep, 
rich,  and  mellow  effect  of  such  colours,  will  hardly  be  surprised  that 
painters  should  have  been  fond  of  introducing  them  into  their  works, 
and  sometimes  to  the  exclusion  of  those  of  which  the  beauty  is  univer- 
sally acknowledged,  and  is  likewise  enhanced  by  every  pleasing  asso- 
ciation. 

Autumn,  which  is  metaphorically  applied  to  the  decline  of  human 
life,  when  "  fallen  into  the  sere,  the  yellow  leaf,"  and  not  the  spring, 
la primacera^ci'iorcutu  del  anno,  is  generally  called  the  painters  season. 
And  yet  there  is  something  so  very  delightful  in  the  real  charms  of 


138 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


spring,  as  well  as  in  the  associated  ideas  of  renewed  life  and  vegetation, 
that  it  seems  a  perversion  of  our  natural  feelings,  when  we  prefer  to  all 
its  blooming  hopes  the  first  bodings  of  the  approach  of  winter.  Autumn 
must,  therefore,  have  many  powerful  attractions,  though  of  a  different 
kind,  and  those  intimately  connected  with  the  art  of  painting;  for 
which  reason,  as  the  picturesque,  though  equally  founded  in  nature 
with  the  beautiful,  has  been  more  particularly  pointed  out,  illustrated, 
and,  as  it  were,  brought  to  light  by  that  art,  an  inquiry  into  the  reasons 
why  autumn,  and  not  spring,  is  called  the  painter's  season,  will,  I  ima- 
gine, give  great  additional  insight  into  the  distinct  characters  of  the 
picturesque  and  the  beautiful,  especially  with  regard  to  colour. 

The  colours  of  spring  deserve  the  name  of  beauty  in  the  truest  sense 
of  the  word  ;  they  have  every  thing  that  can  give  us  that  idea — fresh- 
ness, gaiety,  and  liveliness,  with  softness  and  delicacy ;  their  beauty  is 
indeed  of  all  others  the  most  generally  acknowledged,  so  much  so,  that 
from  them  every  comparison  and  illustration  of  that  character  is  taken. 
The  tints  of  the  flowers  and  blossoms,  in  all  the  nearer  views,  are  clearly 
the  most  striking  and  attractive,  but  the  more  general  impression  is 
made  by  the  freshness  of  that  vivid  green  with  which  the  fields,  the 
woods,  and  all  vegetation  begins  to  be  adorned.  Besides  their  fresh- 
ness, the  earlier  trees  have  a  remarkable  lightness  and  transparency ; 
their  new  foliage  serves  as  a  decoration,  not  as  a  concealment,  and 
through  it  the  forms  of  their  limbs  are  seen,  as  those  of  the  human 
body  under  a  thin  drapery,  while  a  thousand  quivering  lights  play 
around  and  amidst  their  branches  in  every  direction. 

But  these  beauties,  which  give  to  spring  its  peculiar  character,  are 
not  those  which  are  best  adapted  to  painting.  A  general  air  of  lightness 
is  one  of  the  most  engaging  qualities  of  that  lovely  season  ;  yet  the 
lightness,  in  the  earlier  part,  approaches  to  thinness  ;  and  the  transpa- 
rency of  the  new  foliage,  the  thousand  quivering  lights,  beautiful  as  they 
are  in  nature,  have  a  tendency  to  produce  a  meagre  and  spotty  effect 
in  a  picture,  where  breadth,  and  broad  masses  can  hardly  be  dispensed 
with.    The  general  colour  also  of  spring,  when  April 

"  Lightly  o'er  the  living  scene 
Scatters  his  tenderest  freshest  green," 

though  pleasing  to  every  eye  in  nature,  is  not  equally  so  on  the  canvass  ; 
especially  when  scattered  over  the  general  scene.  Freshness  also,  it 
may  be  remarked,  is  in  one  sense  simply  coolness,  and  that  idea,  in  some 
degree,  almost  always  accompanies  it ;  and  though  in  nature  gleams  of 
sunshine,  from  their  real  warmth  as  well  as  their  splendour,  give  a  tern- 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


139 


porary  glow  and  animation  to  a  landscape  entirely  green,  yet  even  under 
the  influence  of  such  a  glow,  that  colour  would  too  much  preponderate 
in  a  picture.  Such  a  style  of  landscape  is  therefore  rarely  attempted — 
for  who  would  confine  himself  to  cold  monotony,  when  all  nature  is  full 
of  examples  of  the  greatest  variety,  with  the  most  perfect  harmony  ? 

As  the  green  of  spring,  from  its  comparative  coldness,  is  upon  the 
whole  unfavourable  to  landscape  painting,  in  like  manner  its  flowers 
and  blossoms,  from  their  too  distinct  and  splendid  appearance,  are  apt 
to  produce  a  glare  and  spottiness  so  destructive  of  that  union,  which  is 
the  very  essence  of  a  picture  whether  in  nature  or  imitation. 

This  effect  I  remember  observing  in  a  very  striking  degree  many 
years  ago,  on  entering  Herefordshire  when  the  fruit  trees  were  in  blos- 
som ;  my  expectation  was  much  raised,  for  I  had  heard  that  at  the  time 
of  the  blow,  the  whole  country  from  the  Malvern  hills  looked  like  a 
garden.  My  disappointment  was  nearly  equal  to  my  expectation — the 
country  answered  to  the  description — it  did  look  like  a  garden,  but  it 
made  a  scattered  discordant  landscape  :  the  blossoms,  so  beautiful  on  a 
near  view,  when  the  different  shades  and  gradations  of  their  colours  are 
distinguished,  seemed  to  have  lost  all  their  richness  and  variety ;  and 
though  the  scene  conveyed  to  my  mind  the  cheerful  ideas  of  fruitfulness 
and  plenty,  I  could  not  help  feeling  how  defective  it  was  in  all  those 
qualities  and  principles,  on  which  the  painter  sets  so  high  a  value. 

AVhite  blossoms  are  in  one  very  material  respect,  more  unfavourable 
to  landscape  than  any  others  ;  as  white,  by  bringing  objects  too  near 
the  eye,  disturbs  the  aerial  perspective  and  the  gradation  of  distance. 
On  this  subject  I  must  beg  leave  to  introduce  to  the  reader  some  remarks 
by  Mr.  Locke,  in  Mr.  Gilpin's  Tour  down  the  Wye. 

"  White  offers  a  more  extended  scale  of  light  and  shadow,  than  any 
other  colour,  when  near  ;  and  is  more  susceptible  of  the  predominant 
tint  of  the  air,  when  distant.  The  transparency  of  its  shadows,  (which 
in  near  objects  partake  so  little  of  darkness  that  they  are  rather  second 
lights,)  discover,  without  injuring  the  principal  light,  all  the  details  of 
surfaces.  I  partake,  however,  of  your  general  dislike  to  the  colour ; 
and  though  I  have  seen  a  very  splendid  effect  from  an  accidental  light 
on  a  white  object,  yet  I  think  it  a  hue  which  oftener  injures  than  it 
improves  the  scene.  It  particularly  disturbs  the  air  in  its  office  of  gra- 
duating distances — shows  objects  nearer  than  they  really  are — and  by 
pressing  them  on  the  eye,  often  gives  them  an  importance  which,  from 
their  form,  and  situation,  they  are  not  entitled  to.  The  white  of  snow 
is  so  active  and  refractory,  as  to  resist  the  discipline  of  every  harmonis- 
ing principle.    I  think  I  never  saw  Mont  Blanc,  and  the  range  of  snows 


140 


SIR  UVKDALK  PRICE 


which  run  through  Savoy,  in  union  with  the  rest  of  the  landscape,  ex- 
cept when  they  were  tinged  by  the  rays  of  the  rising  and  setting  sun  ; 
or  participated  of  some  other  tint  of  the  surrounding  sky.  In  the  clear 
and  colourless  days  so  frequent  in  that  country,  the  glaciers  are  always 
out  of  tune." 

It  is  impossible  to  read  these  remarks,  without  regretting  that  the 
observations  of  a  mind  so  capable  of  enlightening  the  public,  should  be 
withheld  from  it ;  a  regret  which  those  who  have  enjoyed  the  pleasure 
and  advantage  of  Mr.  Locke's  conversation,  feel  in  a  much  higher  degree. 

If  there  be  any  thing  in  the  universal  range  of  the  arts  peculiarly  re- 
quired to  be  a  whole,  it  is  a  picture.  In  pieces  of  music,  particular 
movements  may  without  injury  be  separated  from  the  whole;  in  every 
species  of  poetry,  detached  scenes,  episodes,  stanzas,  &c.  may  be  con- 
sidered and  enjoyed  by  themselves  ;  but  in  a  picture,  the  forms,  tints, 
lights  and  shadows,  all  their  combinations,  effects,  agreements,  and  oppo- 
sitions, are  at  once  subjected  to  the  eye  :  whatever  therefore  may  be  the 
excellence  of  the  several  parts,  however  beautiful  the  particular  colours, 
however  splendid  the  lights,  if  they  want  union,  breadth,  and  harmony, 
the  picture  wants  its  most  essential  quality — it  is  not  a  whole.  Accord- 
ing to  my  notions,  therefore,  it  is  chiefly  from  this  circumstance  of  union 
and  harmony,  that  the  decaying  charms  of  autumn  often  triumph  in  the 
painter's  eye  over  the  fresh  and  blooming  beauties  of  spring. 

It  must  not,  however,  be  concluded  from  what  has  been  said,  that  the 
painter  has  no  pleasure  in  any  set  of  objects,  unless  they  form  a  picture  : 
the  charms  of  spring  are  universally  felt,  and  he  also  feels  their  influence, 
unless  he  has  narrowed  his  mind  by  that  art,  which  ought  most  to  have 
enlarged  it.  The  true  lover  of  painting  only  adds  new  sources  of  plea- 
sure to  those  which  are  common  to  all  mankind.  This  is  precisely  the 
case  with  regard  to  prospects — the  painter  adds  those  new  sources  of 
pleasure  to  the  general  and  vague  delight  which  is  felt  by  every  spec- 
tator. He  enjoys  equally  the  general  beauties  of  nature,  but  from  his 
quick  eye,  and  keen  relish  for  her  more  happy  combinations  and  effects, 
he  acquires  a  number  of  pleasures  which  may  be  dwelt  upon,  when  the 
first  enchanting,  but  vague  delight  of  spring  is  diminished. 

Such  indeed  are  the  charms  of  reviving  nature,  such  the  profusion  of 
fresh,  gay,  and  beautiful  colours  and  of  sweets,  united  with  the  ideas  of 
fruitfulness,  that  they  absorb  for  the  moment  all  other  considerations  : 
and  on  a  genial  day  in  spring,  and  in  a  place  where  all  its  charms  are 
displayed,  every  man,  whose  mind  is  not  insensible  or  depraved,  must 
feel  the  full  force  of  that  exclamation  of  Adam,  when  he  first  awakened 
to  the  pleasure  of  existence  ; 


OX  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


141 


"  With  fragrance  and  with  joy  my  heart  o'erflowM.''' 
I  have  now  mentioned  what  seem  to  me  the  principal  beauties  and 
defects  of  the  earlier  part  of  spriug,  at  which  time,  however,  the  pecu- 
liar character  of  that  season  is  most  striking  ;  for  as  it  advances,  and 
the  leaves  are  more  and  more  expanded,  they  no  longer  retain  their 
vernal  hue,  their  gloss  of  youth  ;  and  the  trees  in  the  height  of  summer, 
lose  perhaps  as  much  in  the  freshness,  variety,  and  lightness  of  their 
foliage,  as  they  gain  in  the  general  fulness  of  it,  and  the  superior  size  of 
their  leaves. 

The  midsummer  shoot  is  the  first  thing  that  gives  relief  to  the  eye, 
after  the  sameness  of  colour  which  immediately  precedes  it.  In  many 
trees,  and  in  none  more  than  the  oak,  the  effect  is  singularly  beautiful ; 
the  old  foliage  forms  a  dark  background,  on  which  the  new  appears, 
relieved  and  detached  in  all  its  freshness  and  brilliancy — it  is  spring  en- 
grafted upon  summer.  This  effect,  however,  is  confined  to  the  nearer 
objects  ;  the  great  general  change  in  all  vegetation  is  produced  by  the 
first  frosts  of  autumn.  It  is  then  that  the  more  uniform  green  of  summer, 
is  succeeded  by  a  variety  of  rich  glowing  tints,  which  so  admirably 
accord  with  each  other,  and  form  so  splendid  a  mass  of  colouring,  so 
superior  in  depth  and  richness,  to  that  of  any  other  part  of  the  year. 

It  has  often  struck  me,  that  the  whole  system  of  the  Venetian  colour  - 
ing, particularly  that  of  Giorgione  and  Titian,  was  formed  upon  the  tints 
of  autumn,  whence  their  pictures  have  that  golden  hue,  which  gives  them 
such  a  superiority  over  all  others.  Their  trees,  foregrounds,  and  every 
part  of  their  landscapes,  have  more  strongly,  than  those  of  any  other 
painters,  the  deep  and  rich  browns  of  that  season — the  same  general 
hue  prevails  in  the  draperies,  and  even  in  the  flesh  of  their  figures, 
which  has  neither  the  silver  purity  of  Guido,  nor  the  freshness  of 
Rubens,  but  a  glow  perhaps  more  enchanting  than  either.  Sir  Joshua 
Reynolds  has  remarked,  that  the  silver  purity  of  Guido  is  more  suited 
to  beauty  than  the  glowing  golden  hue  of  Titian.  It  was  natural  for 
him  to  mention  Guido,  as  being  the  painter  who  had  most  succeeded  in 
beauty  of  form ;  but  with  less  of  his  purity  and  evenness  of  tint,  there 
is  a  freshness  in  that  of  Rubens,  which  would  admirably  accord  with 
beauty,  though  there  are  but  few  instances  in  his  works  of  such  a  union. 

A  strong  proof  that  the  same  general  hue  prevailed  in  the  whole  of 
any  one  work  of  Titian,  is  to  be  found  in  his  Ganymede,  in  the 
Colonna  palace,  to  which,  by  the  order  of  the  old  Cardinal,  Carlo 
Maratt  put  a  new  sky  of  the  same  tone  as  those  in  his  own  pictures  ; 
and  I  may  say,  that  none  but  such  a  cold  insipid  artist  could  have 
borne  to  execute,  what  such  gross  unfeeling  ignorance  had  commanded. 


142 


SIR  U VEDALE  PRICE 


Such  a  sky  would  have  been  a  severe  trial  to  the  flesh  of  any  warm 
picture,  but  it  makes  that  of  the  Ganymede  appear  almost  black,  which 
certainly  would  not  have  been  the  case,  if  it  had  been  painted  by 
k'ubens  or  Correggio. 

I  have  observed  in  a  former  part,  that  if  any  one  of  the  qualities 
which  Mr.  Burke  has  so  justly  ascribed  to  beauty,  be  more  essential 
khan  the  others,  it  is  freshness;  and  it  is  that  which  makes  the  most 
distinct  line  of  separation  between  the  beautiful  and  picturesque  in 
colouring.  I  should,  on  that  account,  even  if  I  were  not  supported  by 
the  authority  of  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds,  be  inclined  to  call  the  Venetian 
style  of  colouring,  and  that  of  Mola,  of  Domenico  Feti,  and  others  who 
have  imitated  it,  the  picturesque  style,  as  being  formed  upon  the  deep 
and  glowing  tints  of  autumn,  and  not  upon  the  fresh  and  delicate  colours 
of  spring  ;  and  although  this  Venetian  colouring  may  not  upon  the 
whole  be  so  congenial  to  the  sublime,  as  the  severer  styles  of  the  Roman 
and  Florentine  schools,  yet  it  is  much  more  so,  than  the  fresh  and  sen- 
sual tints  of  Rubens,  or  the  silvery  tone  of  Guido  ;  and  in  this  it 
accords  with  the  general  character  of  the  picturesque,  which  more 
readily  mixes  with  the  sublime  than  the  beautiful  does.  I  am  here 
speaking  solely  of  the  tints  of  Rubens,  especially  those  of  his  women 
and  children,  without  any  reference  to  the  forms  or  the  dispositions  of 
his  figures,  or  the  richness  of  his  dresses  and  decorations,  on  account  of 
which  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  has  classed  him  with  the  Venetians,  as  be- 
longing to  the  ornamental,  and,  in  that  respect,  the  picturesque  style. 
Sometimes,  also,  the  grandest  effects  have  arisen  from  the  broken  tints 
of  the  Venetian  painters — effects  that  are  displayed  in  their  highest 
perfection  in  the  backgrounds  and  skies  of  Titian,  and  which,  in  those 
parts  of  the  picture,  could  not  be  produced  by  the  unbroken  and  dis- 
tinct colours  of  the  Roman  school.  Claude  always  mixed  a  much 
larger  proportion  of  cool,  fresh  colours  in  his  landscapes,  than  the 
Venetians  did  in  theirs.  In  some  of  his  early  pictures,  those  cool  tints 
prevail  too  much,  and  give  them  a  cold  sickly  appearance ;  his  best 
works,  however,  are  entirely  free  from  that,  as  well  as  the  opposite 
defect,  and  his  authority  for  the  due  proportion  of  cool  and  warm 
colours  which  beauty  requires,  is  as  high  as  any  man's  can  be  ;  for  no 
one  studied  beauty  more  diligently,  more  successfully,  or  for  a  greater 
number  of  years. 

In  many  of  Rubens'  works  we  distinguish  the  freshness  of  the  early 
season  of  the  year ;  and  the  whole  of  that  well-known  picture  of  the 
Duke  of  Rutland's,  has  the  spring-like  hue  of  those  flowers,  which  with 
so  isi\y  and  spring-like  a  profusion,  yet  still  with  a  painter's  judgment, 


OX  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


143 


he  has  thrown  about  it.  But  when  Titian  introduces  flowers,  they  are 
made  to  accord  with  his  genera]  principle  ;  they  are  not  the  children  of 
spring,  they  seem  to  belong  to  a  later  season  ;  for  he  spreads  over  them 
an  autumnal  hue  and  atmosphere,  which  would  make  even  Rubens' 
flowers,  much  more  those  of  a  mere  flower  painter,  look  raw  in  com- 
parison. 

This  leads  me  to  observe,  that  it  is  not  only  the  change  of  vegetation 
which  gives  to  autumn  its  golden  hue,  but  also  the  atmosphere  itself, 
and  the  lights  and  shadows  which  then  prevail.  Spring  has  its  light 
and  flitting  clouds,  with  shadows  equally  flitting  and  uncertain ;  refresh- 
ing showers,  with  gay  and  genial  bursts  of  sunshine,  that  seem  suddenly 
to  call  forth  and  to  nourish  the  young  buds  and  flowers.  In  autumn  all 
is  matured ;  and  the  rich  hues  of  the  ripened  fruits,  and  of  the  changing 
foliage,  are  rendered  still  richer  by  the  warm  haze,  which,  on  a  fine 
day  in  that  season,  spreads  the  last  varnish  over  every  part  of  the  pic- 
ture. In  winter,  the  trees  and  woods,  from  their  total  loss  of  foliage, 
have  so  lifeless  and  meagre  an  appearance,  so  different  from  the  fresh- 
ness of  spring,  the  fulness  of  summer,  and  the  richness  of  autumn,  that 
many,  not  insensible  to  the  beauties  of  scenery  at  other  times,  scarcely 
look  at  it  during  that  season.  But  the  contracted  circle  which  the  sun 
then  describes,  however  unwished  for  on  every  other  consideration,  is 
of  great  advantage  with  respect  to  breadth;  for  then,  even  the  mid-day 
lights  and  shadows,  from  their  horizontal  direction,  are  so  striking,  and 
the  parts  so  finely  illuminated,  and  yet  so  connected  and  filled  up 
by  them,  that  I  have  many  times  forgotten  the  nakedness  of  the 
trees,  from  admiration  of  the  general  masses.  In  summer,  the  exact 
reverse  is  as  often  the  case  ;  the  rich  clothing  of  the  parts  makes  a 
faint  impression,  from  the  vague  and  general  glare  of  light  without 
shadow. 

QWhen  we  talk  comparatively  of  the  seasons,  I  think  we  may  natu- 
rally enough  give  the  name  of  the  picturesque  to  that  of  autumn ;  for 
as  it  affords  greater  facilities  to  the  art  of  painting,  so  it  holds  out 
greater  provocatives  to  its  professors,  and,  consequently,  its  tones  of 
colour  are  those  which  have  been  most  usually  adopted  by  the  greatest 
masters,  to  give  character  and  effect  to  their  works.  But  when  we 
view  the  seasons  without  regard  to  art  at  all — and  entirely  as  they 
may  affect  us  through  the  medium  of  association — we  find  the  sources 
of  our  individual  gratification  to  be  as  various  as  are  our  opinions. 
Spring,  in  all  the  pictures — animate  as  well  as  inanimate,  which  it 
produces — is  associated  in  all  men's  minds  with  the  tenderness  and  in- 
nocence of  youth,  and  with  all  those  anxieties  with  which  the  heart  is 


14  4 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


filled  from  the  consideration  of  the  many  perils  to  which  its  delicacy  is 
exposed.  For, 

u  As  yet  the  trembling  year  is  unconfirmed, 
And  winter  oft  at  eve  resumes  the  breeze — 
Chills  the  pale  morn,  and  bids  his  driving  sleets 
Deform  the  day  delightless." 

But  then,  as  when  beholding  budding  youth,  human  bosoms  are  most 
filled  with  fair  hopes,  in  despite  of  all  that  human  experience  which  has, 
with  dull  uniformity,  proved  such  hopes  to  be  nought — so  likewise 
docs  it  too  often  happen,  that  those  which  we  cherish  regarding  the 
promises  of  the  young  spring  may  be  equally  fallacious.    But  when, 

"  At  last  from  Aries  rolls  the  bounteous  sun, 
And  the  bright  Bull  receives  him  ;  then  no  more 
The  expansive  atmosphere  is  cramp'd  with  cold — 
But,  full  of  life,  and  vivifying  soul, 
Lifts  the  light  clouds  sublime,  and  spreads  them  thin, 
Fleecy  and  white,  o'er  all-surrounding  Heaven." 

Then,  indeed,  the  earth  begins  to  teem  with  verdure,  and  all  nature 
becomes  animated  with  universal  joy.  Then, 

"  Oft  let  me  wander  o'er  the  dewy  fields, 
Where  freshness  breathes,  and  dash  the  trembling  drops 
From  the  bent  bush,  as  through  the  verdant  maze 
Of  sweet-brier  hedges  I  pursue  my  walk  ; 
.    Or  taste  the  smell  of  dairy ;  or  ascend 
Some  eminence,  Augusta,  in  thy  plains, 
And  see  the  country,  far  diffused  around — 
One  boundless  blush — one  white-empurpled  shower 
Of  mingled  blossoms,  where  the  raptured  eye 
Hurries  from  joy  to  joy." 

Is  not  that  man  to  be  pitied  who  could  stop  in  such  a  walk  as 
this,  to  have  the  bounding  delight  of  his  bosom  checked  and  cramped 
by  the  recollection  that  it  may  have  nothing  in  it  favourable  for  the 
artist?  And  who  is  there  who  would  not  have  every  fountain  within 
his  heart  opened  in  a  sympathetic  gush  of  joy  like  that  of  Nature  her- 
self, by  so  rich  a  combination  of  rural  sweets  as  spring  presents,  thus 
rejoicing  in  their  new  life  beneath  his  eye  ?  Yes — there  are  some 
with  whom  all  this  gladness  of  the  birth  of  Nature  may  but  excite  a 
deeper  melancholy.  Such  will  be  its  effect  on  the  mind  of  him  who  is 
conscious  of  watching  his  own  gradual  decay — and,  instead  of  joy,  it 
must  only  awaken  an  acuter  pang  of  misery  in  the  breast  of  the  un- 
fortunate who  is  the  victim  of  some  severe  mortal  affliction.    We  thus 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


145 


see  that  the  beauties  of  spring  have  no  other  charms  than  those  which 
may  be  reflected  from  the  mind  of  man  himself. 

Summer  seems  to  be  less  likely  to  excite  very  powerful  associations, 
either  of  an  intensely  pleasing  or  painful  description.  The  burst  of 
nature  is  over — the  growth  of  plants  and  tress  is  less  prominently  ap- 
parent— the  appearance  of  to-day  is  liker  that  of  yesterday  than  was 
tiie  case  with  the  same  successive  portions  of  time  during  the  more 
rapid  vegetation  of  spring.  The  sky  is  more  serene,  and,  at  the  same 
time,  more  monotonous  in  its  effects — and  if  it  be  a  real  summer, 
such  as  Thomson  describes,  the  heat  of  the  sun  is  so  potent  as  to  be 
oppressive — to  so  great  an  extent,  indeed,  as  to  induce  an  indolence 
of  disposition,  arising  from  a  bodily  and  mental  lassitude.  Then  is  the 
time  for  the  calmness  and  the  quiet  of  lazy  speculation,  and  so,  in 
perfect  listlessness, 

'•  Let  rue  haste  into  the  mid-wood  shade, 
Where  scarce  a  sunbeam  wanders  through  the  gloom, 
And  on  the  dark-green  grass,  beside  the  brink 
Of  haunted  stream,  that  by  the  roots  of  oak 
Rolls  o'er  the  rocky  channel,  lie  at  large." 

Or  let  me,  in  dreamy  meditation, 

u  Sit  on  rocks,  and  muse  o'er  flood  and  fell." 

I  admit  that  all  seasons  are  capable  of  producing  individual  associa- 
tions with  Nature.    But.  laying  aside  all  such,  I  should  say,  in  a  gene- 
ral point  of  view,  that  these  are  the  natural  effects  of  summer. 
But  autumn, 

"  Crown 'd  with  the  sickle  and  the  wheaten  sheaf," 

comes  with  ten  thousand  charms,  for  the  young,  who,  regardless  of  the 
lesson  which  it  is  continually  teaching  to  frail  mortality,  rejoice  in  the 
liberty  which  that  season  generally  brings  round  to  them — when  they 
revel  in  its  fruits — are  cheered  by  the  jocund  labours  of  its  harvests — - 
and  are  excited  by  the  animating  field-sports  which  its  season  brings 
round  to  them — whilst  the  bright  sun,  tempered  by  a  cool  and  in- 
vigorating air.  gives  elasticity  and  renewed  action  to  every  thing  that 
has  life,  and  whilst  the  effects  of  sky  are  splendid  and  ever  varying. 
The  rich  hues  of  the  woods,  too,  whilst  they  are  in  full  harmony  with 
such  feelings,  are  rendered  doubly  pleasing  by  having  been  always 
intimately  connected  in  the  minds  of  the  young  with  all  these  delight- 
ful gratifications.  But  with  him  to  whom  the  tints  of  autumn  afford 
no  other  association  than  that  which  they  have  with  the  decay  of 
human  life,  the  season  only  returns  as  a  melancholy  memento  that 

K 


SIR  L  VKDALK  PRICK 


another  year  is  silently  departing  over  his  head,  and  bringing  him — 
though  perhaps  with  insensible  steps — gradually  nearer  and  nearer  to 
his  grave.  It  is  in  the  spring  and  in  the  autumn  that  such  thoughts 
are  most  peculiarly  apt  to  be  awakened ;  for  they  are  not  so  likely  to 
be  excited  by  the  sameness  of  summer,  when  the  growth  of  Nature 
may  be  said  to  be  at  maturity,  and  when,  as  regards  the  year,  she  may 
be  said  to  be  in  her  middle  age. 

The  mind  may  be  expected  again  to  recover  somewhat  of  the  quiet- 
ness and  equality  of  its  tone  when  winter  has  fairly  set  in,  when  the 
fleeting  beauties  of  nature  may  be  said  to  have  expired.  Then  man 
becomes  prepared  to  enjoy  the  socialities  of  intellectual  life ;  and 
though  winter  does  come 

"  To  rule  the  varying  year 
Sullen  and  sad,  with  all  his  rising  train — 
Vapours,  and  clouds,  and  storms," — 

When 

"  Comes  the  father  of  the  tempest  forth, 
Wrapp'd  in  black  glooms," — 

And,  above  all,  when 

"  Through  the  hush'd  air  the  whitening  shower  descends," 

And 

"  The  cherish"d  fields 
Put  on  their  winter-robe  of  purest  white," 

it  may  be  matter  of  doubt  whether  the  conscious  anticipation  of  the 
coming  comfort,  to  be  enjoyed  in  the  domestic  circle,  by  the  bickering 
winter's  hearth,  in  talk  and  tales  of  other  times  with  those  we  like, 
may  not  give  such  a  zest  to  our  bracing  country  walk  as  may  make 
even  it  more  truly  agreeable  than  that  of  summer.  And  how  grateful 
does  the  well  constituted  mind  then  become  to  a  good  Providence  for 
having  thus  bestowed  the  means  for  so  viewing  this  otherwise  dreary 
season  !  And  how  readily  is  it  prepared  to  alleviate  the  wants  of 
those  for  whom  the  Almighty  has  been  pleased  to  provide  more 
scantily,  and  who  consequently  look  with  shivering  terror,  and  ap- 
prehensive desolation  of  face,  upon  every  fresh  stride  which  the  bleak 
and  howling  wintry  storms  make  in  their  advance. 

Thus  we  may  see,  from  these  few  desultory  reflections,  how  much 
our  estimation  of  the  beauty  of  the  seasons  depends  upon  our  indivi- 
dual circumstances  and  feelings,  as  well  as  upon  those  which  belong  to 
us  more  in  common  with  mankind  in  general — so  that  the  cheerfulness 
or  the  melancholy  which  each  of  them  may  produce,  is  but  a  cheerful- 
ness or  a  melancholy  which  is  merely  a  reflected  image  of  that  which 
wo  bear  within  us. — E.] 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


147 


CHAPTER  IX. 

I  have  endeavoured  to  the  best  of  my  abilities,  and  according  to  the 
observations  I  have  made  in  a  long  habit  of  reflection  on  the  subject, 
to  trace  the  ideas  we  have  of  the  picturesque,  through  the  different 
works  of  art  and  nature ;  and  it  appears  to  me,  that  in  all  objects  of 
sight,  in  buildings,  trees,  water,  ground,  in  the  human  species,  and  in 
other  animals,  the  same  general  principles  uniformly  prevail,  and  that 
even  light  and  shadow,  and  colours,  have  the  strongest  conformity  to 
those  principles.  I  have  compared  both  its  causes  and  effects  with 
those  of  the  sublime  and  the  beautiful ;  I  have  shown  its  distinctness 
from  them  both,  and  in  what  that  distinctness  consists. 

I  may  perhaps,  however,  be  able  to  throw  some  additional  light  on 
the  subject,  by  considering  two  qualities  the  most  opposite  to  beauty — 
those  of  ugliness  and  deformity ;  by  showing  in  what  points  they  differ 
from  each  other,  and  under  what  circumstances  they  may  form  a  union 
with  other  qualities  and  characters.  According  to  Mr.  Burke,  those 
objects  are  the  ugliest  which  approach  most  nearly  to  angular,'"'  but  I 
think  he  would  scarcely  have  given  that  opinion,  if  he  had  thought  it 
worth  while  to  investigate  so  ungrateful  a  subject  as  that  of  ugliness, 


*  Sublime  and  Beautiful, p.  217. 


1 48 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


with  the  same  attention  as  that  of  beauty ;  for,  if  his  position  he  true, 
the  leaves  of  the  plane-tree  and  the  vine  are  among  the  ugliest  of  the 
vegetable  kingdom. 

It  seems  to  me,  that  mere  unmixed  ugliness  does  not  arise  from  sharp 
angles,  or  from  any  sudden  variation,  hut  rather  from  that  want  of  form, 
that  unshapen  lumpish  appearance,  which,  perhaps,  no  one  word  exactly 
expresses  ;  a  quality  (if  what  is  negative  may  be  so  called)  which  never 
can  he  mistaken  for  beauty,  never  can  adorn  it,  and  which  is  equally 
unconnected  with  the  sublime  and  the  picturesque.  The  remains  of 
Grecian  sculpture  afford  us  the  most  generally  acknowledged  models 
of  beauty  of  form,  in  its  most  exquisitely  finished  state ;  if  this  be 
granted,  every  change  that  could  be  made  in  such  models  must  be  a 
diminution  of  the  perfect  character  of  beauty,  and  an  approach  to- 
wards some  other.  Were  an  artist,  for  instance,  to  model,  in  any 
soft  material,  a  head  from  the  Venus  or  the  Apollo,  and  then,  by  way 
of  experiment,  to  make  the  nose  longer  or  sharper,  rising  more  suddenly 
towards  the  middle,  or  strongly  aquiline — were  he  to  give  a  striking 
projection  to  the  eye-brow,  or  to  interrupt,  by  some  marked  deviation, 
the  flowing  outline  of  the  face — though  he  would  destroy  beauty,  yet 
he  might  create  character,  and  something  grand  or  picturesque  might 
be  produced  by  such  a  trial.  But  let  him  take  the  contrary  method, 
let  him  clog  and  fill  up  all  those  nicely  marked  variations  of  which 
beauty  is  the  result — ugliness,  and  that  only,  must  be  the  consequence. 
Should  he.  proceed  still  further  with  his  experiment — should  he  twist 
the  mouth,  make  the  nose  awry,  of  a  preposterous  size,  and  place  warts 
and  carbuncles  upon  it,  or  wens  and  excrescences  on  other  parts  of  the 
face,  he  would  then  graft  deformity  upon  ugliness. 

Deformity  is  to  ugliness  what  picturesqueness  is  to  beauty — though 
distinct  from  it,  and  in  many  cases  arising  from  opposite  causes,  it  is 
often  mistaken  for  it,  often  accompanies  it,  and  greatly  heightens  its 
effect.  Ugliness  alone  is  merely  disagreeable — by  the  addition  of  de- 
formity it  becomes  hideous — by  that  of  terror  it  may  become  sublime. 
All  these  are  mixed  in  the 

«  Monstrum  horrendum,  informe,  ingens,  cui  lumen  ademptum." 

Deformity  in  itself,  however,  has  no  connection  with  the  sublime,  and, 
when  terror  can  be  produced  by  circumstances  of  a  more  elevated  cha- 
racter, may  even  injure  its  effect.  Death,  for  instance,  is  commonly 
painted  as  a  skeleton  ;  but  Milton,  in  his  famous  description,  has  made 
no  allusion  to  that  deformity  (if  it  may  be  called  so)  which  is  usual  in 
the  representation  of  the  king  of  terrors,  possibly  from  judging  that  its 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


149 


distinctness  would  take  off  from  that  mysterious  uncertainty  which  has 
rendered  his  picture  so  awfully  sublime. 

"  The  other  shape, 
If  shape  it  might  be  calTd,  which  shape  had  none 
Distinguishable  in  member,  joint,  or  limb  ; 
Or  substance  might  be  call'd,  which  shadow  seem'd, 
For  each  seem'd  either  ;  black  it  stood  as  night, 
Fierce  as  ten  furies,  terrible  as  hell, 
And  shook  a  deadly  dart ;  what  seem'd  his  head. 
The  likeness  of  a  kingly  crown  had  on.'1 

The  union  of  deformity  with  beauty  is,  from  the  contrast,  more 
striking  than  any  other ;  but  it  is  in  the  same  proportion  disgusting, 
and,  so  far  from  raising  any  grand  ideas,  has  rather  a  tendency  to 
excite  those  that  are  ludicrous.  Such,  I  think,  it  appears  in  the  de- 
scription of  Scylla  in  the  Metamorphoses,  and  of  Sin  in  Paradise  Lost. 

As  deformity  consists  of  some  striking  and  unnatural  deviation  from 
what  is  usual  in  the  shape  of  the  face  or  body,  or  of  a  similar  addition 
to  it,  all  lines,  of  whatever  description  they  may  be,  will  equally  pro- 
duce it.  Mr.  Burke's  opinion  of  flowing  lines  as  producing  beauty,  and 
of  angular  lines  as  producing  ugliness,  has  been  mentioned ;  and  those 
who  are  of  his  way  of  thinking,  must  probably  object  to  the  Grecian 
nose  as  too  straight,  and  as  forming  too  sharp  an  angle  with  the  rest  of  the 
face.  AVhether  the  Greek  artists  were  right  or  not,  their  practice  shows, 
that,  in  their  opinion,  straight  lines,  and  what  nearly  approach  to  angles, 
were  not  merely  compatible  with  beauty,  but  that  the  effect  of  the  whole 
would  thence  be  more  attractive,  than  by  a  continual  sweep  and  flow 
of  outline  in  every  part.  The  application  of  this  to  modern  gardening 
is  too  obvious  to  be  enforced.  It  is  the  highest  of  all  authority  against 
continued  flow  of  outline,  even  where  beauty  of  form  is  the  only  object. 

The  symmetry  and  proportion  of  hills  and  mountains,  are  not  marked 
out  and  ascertained  like  those  of  the  human  figure ;  but  the  general 
principles  of  beauty  and  ugliness,  of  picturesqueness  and  deformity,  are 
easily  to  be  traced  in  them,  though  not  in  so  striking  and  obvious  a 
manner. 

Those  hills  and  mountains  which  nearly  approach  to  angles,  are  often 
called  beautiful — seldom,  I  believe,  ugly  ;  and  when  their  size  and 
colour  are  diminished  and  softened  by  distance,  they  accord  with  the 
softest  and  most  pleasing  scenes,  and  compose  the  distance  of  some  of 
Claude's  most  polished  landscapes.  The  ugliest  forms  of  hills,  if  my 
ideas  be  just,  are  those  which  arc  lumpish,  and,  as  it  were,  unformed ; 
such,  for  instance,  as  from  one  of  the  ugliest  and  most  shapeless  animals 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


are  called  pig-backed.  When  the  summits  of  any  of  these  are  notched 
into  paltry  divisions,  or  have  such  insignificant  risings  upon  them  as 
appear  like  knobs  or  bumps ;  or  when  any  improver  lias  imitated  those 
knobs  or  knotches,  by  means  of  patches  and  clumps,  they  are  then  both 
ugly  and  deformed. 

The  ugliest  ground  is  that  which  has  neither  the  beauty  of  smoothness, 
verdure,  and  gentle  undulation,  nor  the  picturesqueness  of  bold  and 
sudden  breaks,  and  varied  tints  of  soil :  of  such  kind  is  ground  that  has 
been  disturbed,  and  left  in  that  unfinished  state — as  in  a  rough  ploughed 
field  run  to  sward.  Such  also  are  the  slimy  shores  of  a  flat  tide  river, 
or  the  sides  of  a  mountain  stream  in  summer,  composed  merely  of  loose 
stones,  uniformly  continued,  without  any  mould  or  vegetation.  The 
steep  shores  of  rivers,  where  the  tide  rises  at  times  to  a  great  height, 
and  leaves  promontories  of  slime  ;  and  those  on  which  torrents  among 
the  mountains  leave  huge  shapeless  heaps  of  stones,  may  certainly  lay 
claim  to  some  mixture  of  deformity,  which  is  often  mistaken  for  another 
character.  Nothing,  indeed,  is  more  common  than  to  hear  persons  who 
come  from  a  tame  cultivated  country  (and  not  those  only)  mistake 
barrenness,  desolation,  and  deformity,  for  grandeur  and  picturesqueness. 

It  might  be  supposed,  on  the  other  hand,  that  the  being  continually 
among  picturesque  scenes,  would  of  itself,  and  without  any  assistance 
from  pictures,  lead  to  a  distinguishing  taste  for  them.  Unfortunately 
it  often  leads  to  a  perfect  indifference  for  that  style,  and  to  a  preference 
for  something  directly  opposite. 

I  once  walked  over  a  very  romantic  place  in  Wales,  with  the  pro- 
prietor, and  strongly  expressed  how  much  I  was  struck  with  it,  and, 
among  the  rest,  with  several  natural  cascades.  He  was  quite  uneasy 
at  the  pleasure  I  felt,  and  seemed  afraid  I  should  waste  my  admiration. 
"  Don't  stop  at  these  things,"  said  he,  "  I  will  show  you  by  and  by 
one  worth  seeing."  At  last  we  came  to  a  part  where  the  brook  was  con- 
ducted down  three  long  steps  of  hewn  stone, — "  There,"  said  he,  with 
great  triumph,  "  that  was  made  by  Edwards,  who  built  Pont  y  pridd, 
and  it  is  reckoned  as  neat  a  piece  of  mason-work  as  any  in  the  country." 

£But  I  can  say,  that  this  is  by  no  means  generally  the  effect  pro- 
duced  by  an  early  residence  among  fine  scenery ;  for  I  can  myself 
enumerate  many  cases,  where  I  can  trace  the  formation  of  the  gusto 
pittoresco,  to  early  association  with  such  scenery. — E.]] 

Deformity  in  ground  is,  indeed,  less  obvious  than  in  other  objects. 
Deformity  seems  to  be  something  that  did  not  originally  belong  to  the 
object  in  which  it  exists — something  strikingly  and  unnaturally  dis- 
agreeable, and  not  softened  by  those  circumstances  which  often  make  it 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


151 


picturesque.  The  side  of  a  smooth  greeu  hill,  torn  by  floods,  may  at 
first  very  properly  be  called  deformed  ;  and  on  the  same  principle, 
though  not  with  the  same  impression,  as  a  gash  on  a  living  animal. 
When  the  rawness  of  such  a  gash  in  the  ground  is  softened,  and 
in  part  concealed  and  ornamented  by  the  effects  of  time  and  the  pro- 
gress of  vegetation,  deformity,  by  this  usual  process,  is  converted  into 
picturesqueness  ;  and  this  is  the  case  with  quarries,  gravel-pits,  &c, 
which  at  first  are  deformities,  and  which,  in  their  most  picturesque 
state,  are  often  considered  as  such  by  a  levelling  improver.  Large 
heaps  of  mould  or  stones,  when  they  appear  strongly,  and  without  any 
connection  or  concealment,  above  the  surface  of  the  ground,  may  also 
at  first  be  considered  as  deformities,  and  may  equally  become  pic- 
turesque by  the  same  process. 

[_l  have  known  many  instances  of  such  happy  conversions  by  the 
hand  of  Taste,  and,  among  others,  I  may  notice  a  quarry  at  the  Earl 
of  Dunmore's  seat  of  Dunmore  Park,  in  Stirlingshire.  The  freestone 
for  building  the  house  was  taken  from  it ;  but  the  quarriers  had  no 
sooner  left  off  their  operations,  than,  by  the  judicious  planting  of  trees, 
shrubs,  and  creeping  plants,  it  has  been  converted  into  a  delightfully 
retired  wilderness  of  sweets,  the  effect  of  which  is  much  enhanced  by 
the  circumstance  of  its  being  in  the  midst  of  one  of  the  most  beautiful 
woods  which  can  any  where  be  met  with.  But  I  have  seen  nature  do 
this  for  herself  in  the  happiest  way,  though  she  required  more  time  for 
the  completion  of  her  work,  when  altogether  unassisted.  It  frequently 
happens,  that  when  the  rock  has  been  extensively  worked  out  of  a 
quarry,  springs  have  been  laid  bare,  which  fill  the  deeper  parts  of  the 
excavations  with  the  purest  water,  around  the  irregular  margins  of 
which,  aquatic  plants  shoot  up  among  the  rubbish,  a  happy  circumstance, 
which  I  have  often  seen  add  greatly  to  the  wild  charms  of  such  a  spot. 
-E.] 

This  connection  between  picturesqueness  and  deformity  cannot  be 
too  much  studied  by  improvers,  and,  among  other  reasons,  from  motives 
of  economy.  There  are  in  many  places  deep  hollows  and  broken 
ground  not  immediately  in  view,  which  do  not  interfere  with  any  sweep 
of  lawn  necessary  to  be  kept  open — to  fill  up  and  level  these,  would 
often  be  difficult  and  expensive — to  dress  and  adorn  them  costs  little 
trouble  or  money.  Even  in  the  most  smooth  and  polished  scenes,  they 
may  often  be  so  masked  by  plantations,  and  so  united  with  them,  as  to 
blend  with  the  general  scenery  at  a  distance,  and  to  produce  great 
novelty  and  variety  when  approached. 

The  same  distinctions  which  have  been  remarked  in  other  objects, 


1 52 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


are  equally  observable  in  trees.  The  ugliest,  are  not  those  in  which 
the  branches — whether  from  nature  or  accident — make  sudden  angles, 
but  such  as  are  shapeless  from  having  been  long  pressed  by  others,  or 
from  having  been  regularly  and  repeatedly  stripped  of  their  boughs 
before  they  were  allowed  to  grow  on.  Trees  that  are  torn  by  winds, 
or  shattered  by  lightning,  are  deformed,  and  at  first  very  strikingly  so; 
and  as  the  crudeness  of  such  deformity  is  gradually  softened  by  new 
boughs  and  foliage,  they  often  become  in  a  high  degree  picturesque. 

In  buildings  and  other  artificial  objects,  the  same  principles  operate 
in  the  same  manner.  The  ugliest  buildings  are  those  which  have  no 
feature,  no  character;  those,  in  short,  which  most  nearly  approach  to 
the  shape,  "  if  shape  it  may  be  called,"  of  a  clamp  of  brick,  the  ugliness 
of  which  no  one  will  dispute.  It  is  melancholy  to  reflect  on  the  number 
of  houses  in  this  kingdom  that  seem  to  have  been  built  on  that  model ; 
and  if  they  are  less  ugly,  it  is  chiefly  owing  to  the  sharpness  of  their 
angles,  and  to  their  having,  on  that  account,  something  more  of  a  de- 
cided and  finished  form.  The  term  which  most  expresses  what  is  shape- 
less, is  that  of  a  lump  ;  and  it  generally  indicates  what  is  detached  from 
other  objects,  what  is  without  any  variation  of  parts  in  itself,  or  any 
material  difference  in  length,  breadth,  or  height — a  sort  of  equality  that 
appears  best  to  accord  with  the  monotony  of  ugliness.  Still,  however, 
as  what  is  most  conspicuous  has  the  most  extensive  influence  whether 
in  good  or  in  bad,  a  tall  building,  cwter is  paribus,  may  perhaps  contend 
for  the  palm  of  ugliness.  When  I  consider  the  striking  natural 
beauties  of  such  a  river  as  that  at  Matlock,  and  the  effect  of  the  seven- 
story  buildings  that  have  been  raised  there,  and  on  other  beautiful 
streams,  for  cotton  manufactories,  I  am  inclined  to  think  that  nothing 
can  equal  them  for  the  purpose  of  dis-beautifying  an  enchanting  piece  of 
scenery  ;  and  that  economy  had  produced,  what  the  greatest  ingenuity, 
if  a  prize  were  given  for  ugliness,  could  not  surpass.  They  are  so 
placed,  that  they  contaminate  the  most  interesting  views  ;  and  so  tall, 
that  there  is  no  escaping  from  them  in  any  part ;  and  in  that  respect 
they  have  the  same  unfortunate  advantage  over  a  squat  building,  that 
a  stripped  elm  has  over  a  pollard  willow.  As  in  buildings  there  is  no 
general  or  usual  form,  to  which,  as  in  the  human  race,  we  can  refer, 
deformity  is  in  them  not  so  immediately  obvious.  Many  buildings  are 
erected,  and  then  added  to,  as  more  space  was  wanted,  without  any 
plan  ;  in  others,  the  same  kind  of  irregularity  is  originally  designed  ; 
and  all  these  an  admirer  of  pure  architecture  would  probably  condemn 
as  deformed,  though  they  are  in  general  considered  as  only  irregular. 
Where,  however,  the  architecture  is  regular,  if  any  part  be  taken  away 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


153 


so  as  to  interrupt  the  symmetry,  or  any  thing  added  that  has  no  connec- 
tion with  its  character,  the  building  is  manifestly  deformed.  I  have  here 
supposed  that  the  building,  whether  a  part  be  taken  away,  or  a  part 
added,  is  left  in  an  entire  and  finished  state,  and  that  the  deformity 
solely  arises  from  the  destruction  of  its  symmetry ;  for  any  breach  or 
chasm  in  a  finished  building,  whether  regular  or  irregular,  must  always 
be  a  deformity.  Ruins,  therefore,  of  all  kinds,  are  at  first  deformed  ; 
and  afterwards,  by  means  of  vegetation  and  of  various  effects  of  time 
and  accident,  become  picturesque. 

With  respect  to  colours,  it  appears  to  me  that  as  transparency  is  one 
essential  quality  of  beauty,  so  the  want  of  transparency,  or  what  may 
be  termed  muddiness,  is  the  most  general  and  efficient  cause  of  ugliness. 
A  colour,  for  instance,  may  be  harsh,  glaring,  tawdry,  yet  please  many 
eyes,  and  by  some  be  called  beautiful  ;  but  a  muddy  colour,  no  one  ever 
was  pleased  with,  or  honoured  with  that  title.  If  this  idea  be  just, 
there  seems  to  be  as  much  analogy  between  the  causes  of  ugliness  in 
colour,  and  in  form,  as  the  two  cases  could  well  admit.  In  the  first, 
ugliness  is  said  to  arise  from  the  thickening  of  what  should  be  pure  and 
transparent ;  in  the  second,  from  clogging  and  filling  up  those  nicely 
marked  variations,  of  which  beauty  and  purity  of  outline  are  the  result. 
It  is  hardly  necessary  to  say,  that  I  have  here  been  speaking  of  colours 
as  considered  separately  ;  not  of  those  numberless  beauties  and  effects, 
which  are  produced  by  their  numberless  connections  and  oppositions. 

Ugliness,  like  beauty,  has  no  prominent  features — it  is  in  some  de- 
gree regular  and  uniform,  and  at  a  distance,  and  even  on  a  slight  in- 
spection, is  not  immediately  striking.  Deformity,  like  picturesqueness, 
makes  a  quicker  impression,  and,  the  moment  it  appears,  strongly 
rouses  the  attention.  On  this  principle,  ugly  music  is  what  is  composed 
according  to  rule  and  common  proportion,  but  which  has  neither  that 
selection  of  sweet  and  softly  varying  melody  and  modulation  which 
answers  to  the  beautiful,  nor  that  marked  character,  those  sudden  and 
masterly  changes,  which  correspond  with  the  picturesque.  If  such 
music  be  executed  in  the  same  style  in  which  it  is  composed,  it  will 
cause  no  strong  emotion,  but  if  played  out  of  tune,  it  will  become 
deformed,  and  every  such  deformity  will  make  the  musical  hearer  start. 
The  enraged  musician  stops  both  his  ears  against  the  deformity  of  those 
sounds,  which  Hogarth  has  so  powerfully  conveyed  to  us  through 
another  sense  as  almost  to  justify  the  bold  expression  of  iEsehylus, 
dzdooza  xtwov.  Mere  ugliness  in  visible  objects  is  looked  upon  without 
any  violent  emotion  ;  but  deformity,  in  any  strong  degree,  would  pro- 
bably cause  the  same  sort  of  action  in  the  beholder  as  in  Hogarth's  musi- 


154 


SIR  U VEDA LE  PRICE 


cian,  by  making  him  afraid  to  trust  singly  to  those  means  of  exclusion 
which  nature  has  placed  over  the  sight. 

The  picturesque,  when  mixed  with  the  sublime  or  the  beautiful,  has 
been  already  considered ;  it  will  be  found  as  frequently  mixed  with 
ugliness,  and  when  so  mixed  will  appear  to  be  perfectly  consistent  with 
all  that  has  been  mentioned  of  its  effects  and  qualities.  Ugliness,  like 
beauty,  in  itself  is  not  picturesque,  for  it  has,  simply  considered,  no 
strongly  marked  features ;  but,  when  the  last  mentioned  character  is 
added  either  to  beauty  or  to  ugliness,  they  become  more  striking  and 
varied,  and,  whatever  may  be  the  sensations  they  excite,  they  always, 
by  means  of  that  addition,  more  strongly  attract  the  attention.  We 
are  amused  and  occupied  by  ugly  objects,  if  they  be  also  picturesque, 
just  as  we  are  by  a  rough,  and  in  other  respects  a  disagreeable  mind, 
provided  it  has  a  marked  and  peculiar  character;  without  it,  mere 
outward  ugliness,  or  mere  inward  rudeness,  are  simply  disagreeable. 
An  ugly  man  or  woman,  with  an  aquiline  nose,  high  cheek  bones, 
beetle  brows,  and  strong  lines  in  every  part  of  the  face,  is,  from  these 
picturesque  circumstances,  which  might  all  be  taken  away  without 
destroying  ugliness,  much  more  strikingly  ugly,  than  a  man  with  no 
more  features  than  an  oyster.  It  is  ugliness  of  this .  kind  which  may 
very  justly  be  styled  picturesque  ugliness ;  and  it  is  that  which  has 
been  most  frequently  represented  on  the  canvass.  Those  who  have  been 
used  to  admire  such  picturesque  ugliness  in  painting,  will  look  with 
pleasure  (for  we  have  no  other  word  to  express  the  degree  or  character 
of  that  sensation)  at  the  original  in  nature ;  and  one  cannot  think 
slightly  of  the  power  and  advantage  of  that  art  which  makes  its  ad- 
mirers often  gaze  with  such  delight  on  some  ancient  lady,  as,  by  the 
help  of  a  little  vanity,  might  perhaps  lead  her  to  mistake  the  motive. 

A  celebrated  anatomist  is  said  to  have  declared,  that  he  had  received 
in  his  life  more  pleasure  from  dead  than  from  living  women.  This 
might,  perhaps,  be  brought  as  a  similar,  though  a  stronger  instance  of 
perverted  taste ;  but  I  never  heard  of  any  painter  having  made  the 
same  declaration  with  respect  to  age  and  youth.  Whatever  may  be 
the  future  refinements  of  painting  and  anatomy,  I  believe  young  and 
live  women  will  never  have  reason  to  be  jealous  of  old  or  dead  rivals. 

As  the  excess  of  those  qualities  which  chiefly  constitute  beauty  pro- 
duces insipidity,  so  likewise  the  excess  of  those  which  constitute  pictu- 
resqueness  produces  deformity.  These  mutual  relations  may  be  suffi- 
ciently obvious  in  inanimate  objects,  yet,  perhaps,  they  will  be  more 
clearly  perceived  if  we  consider  them  in  the  human  countenance,  sup- 
posing the  general  form  of  the  countenance  to  remain  the  same,  and 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


155 


only  what  may  in  some  measure  be  considered  as  the  accompaniments 
to  be  changed. 

Suppose,  then,  what  is  no  uncommon  style  or  degree  of  beauty,  a 
woman  with  fine  features,  but  the  character  of  whose  eyes,  eyebrows, 
hair,  and  complexion,  are  more  striking  and  showy  than  delicate. 
Imagine,  then,  the  same  features,  with  the  eyebrows  less  marked,  and 
both  those  and  the  hair  of  the  head  of  a  softer  texture,  the  general 
glow  of  complexion  changed  to  a  more  delicate  gradation  of  white  and 
red,  the  skin  more  smooth  and  even,  and  the  eyes  of  a  milder  colour 
and  expression ;  you  would  by  this  change  take  off  from  the  striking, 
the  showy  effect,  but  such  a  face  would  have,  in  a  greater  degree,  that 
finished  delicacy,  which  even  those  who  might  prefer  the  showy  style, 
would  allow  to  be  more  in  unison  with  the  idea  of  beauty,  and  the 
other  would  appear  comparatively  coarse  and  unfinished.  If  we  go  on 
still  further,  and  suppose  hardly  any  mark  of  eyebrow — the  hair,  from 
the  lightness  of  its  colour,  and  from  the  silky  softness  of  its  quality, 
giving  scarce  any  idea  of  roughness — the  complexion  of  a  pure  and 
almost  transparent  whiteness,  with  hardly  a  tinge  of  red — the  eyes  of 
the  mildest  blue,  and  the  expression  equally  mild — you  would  then 
approach  very  nearly  to  insipidity,  but  still  without  destroying  beauty ; 
on  the  contrary,  such  a  form,  when  irradiated  by  a  mind  of  equal 
sweetness  and  purity,  united  with  sensibility,  has  something  angelic, 
and  seems  further  removed  from  what  is  earthly  and  material.  This 
shows  how  much  softness,  smoothness,  and  delicacy,  even  when  carried 
to  an  extreme  degree,  are  congenial  to  beauty.  On  the  other  hand,  it 
must  be  owned,  that  where  the  only  agreement  between  such  a  form 
and  the  soul  which  inhabits  it  is  want  of  character  and  animation,  no- 
thing can  be  more  completely  vapid  than  the  whole  composition. 

If  we  now  return  to  the  same  point  at  which  we  began,  and  conceive 
the  eyebrows  more  strongly  marked,  the  hair  rougher  in  its  effect  and 
quality,  the  complexion  more  dusky  and  gipsy-like,  the  skin  of  a  coarser 
grain,  with  some  moles  on  it,  a  degree  of  cast  in  the  eyes,  but  so  slight 
as  only  to  give  archness  and  peculiarity  of  countenance — this,  without 
altering  the  proportion  of  the  features,  would  take  off  from  beauty  what 
it  gave  to  character  and  picturesqueness.  If  we  go  one  step  farther, 
and  increase  the  eyebrows  to  a  preposterous  size — the  cast  into  a  squint 
— make  the  skin  scarred,  and  deeply  pitted  with  the  small-pox — the 
complexion  full  of  spots — and  increase  the  moles  into  excrescences — it 
will  plainly  appear  how  close  the  connection  is  between  beauty  and 
insipidity,  and  between  picturesqueness  and  deformity,  and  what  "  thin 
partitions  do  their  bounds  divide." 


156 


SIR  UVKDALE  PRICE 


The  whole  of  this  applies  most  exactly  to  improvements.  The  ge- 
neral features  of  a  place  remain  the  same — the  accompaniments  only 
are  changed,  but  with  them  its  character.  If  the  improver,  as  it  usu- 
ally happens,  attends  solely  to  verdure,  smoothness,  undulation  of 
ground,  and  flowing  lines,  the  whole  will  be  insipid.  If  the  opposite 
and  much  rarer  taste  should  prevail — should  an  improver,  by  way  of 
being  picturesque,  make  broken  ground,  pits,  and  quarries  all  about  his 
place — encourage  nothing  but  furze,  briers,  and  thistles — heap  quanti- 
tities  of  rude  stones  on  his  banks — or,  to  crown  all,  like  Mr.  Kent, 
plant  dead  trees  '" — the  deformity  of  such  a  place  would,  I  believe,  be 
very  generally  allowed,  though  the  insipidity  of  the  other  might  not 
be  so  readily  confessed. 

I  may  here  remark,  that  though  picturesqueness  and  deformity  are, 
by  their  etymology,  so  strictly  confined  to  the  sense  of  seeing,  yet  there 
is  in  the  other  senses  a  most  exact  resemblance  to  their  effects ;  this  is 
the  case,-  not  only  in  that  of  hearing,  of  which  so  many  examples  have 
been  given,  but  in  the  more  contracted  senses  of  tasting  and  smelling, 
and  the  progress  I  have  mentioned  is  in  them  also  equally  plain  and 
obvious.  It  can  hardly  be  doubted,  that  what  answers  to  the  beautiful 
in  the  sense  of  tasting,  has  smoothness  and  sweetness  for  its  basis,  with 
such  a  degree  of  stimulus  as  enlivens,  but  does  not  overbalance  those 
qualities — such,  for  instance,  as  in  the  most  delicious  fruits  and  liquors. 
Take  away  the  stimulus,  they  become  insipid — increase  it,  so  as  to 
overbalance  those  qualities,  they  then  gain  a  peculiarity  of  flavour,  are 
eagerly  sought  after  by  those  who  have  acquired  a  relish  for  them,  but 
are  less  adapted  to  the  general  palate.  This  corresponds  exactly  with 
the  picturesque ;  but  if  the  stimulus  be  increased  beyond  that  point, 
none  but  depraved  and  vitiated  palates  will  endure  what  would  be  so 
justly  termed  deformity  in  objects  of  sight.  The  sense  of  smelling  has 
in  this,  as  in  all  other  respects,  the  closest  conformity  to  that  of  tasting. 
The  old  maxim  of  the  schools,  de  gustibus  non  est  disputdndum,  is 
by  many  extended  to  all  tastes,  and  claimed  as  a  sort  of  privilege  not 
to  have  any  of  theirs  called  in  question.  It  is  certainly  very  reasonable 
that  a  man  should  be  allowed  to  indulge  his  eye,  as  well  as  his  palate, 
in  his  own  way ;  but,  if  he  happened  to  have  a  taste  for  water-gruel 
without  salt,  he  should  not  force  it  upon  his  guests  as  the  perfection  of 
cookery ;  or  burn  their  insides,  if,  like  the  King  of  Prussia,  he  loved 
nothing  but  what  was  spiced  enough  to  turn  a  living  man  into  a 
mummy. 


*  Vide  Mr.  Walpole's  Essay  on  Modern  Gardening. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


157 


These  are  the  chief  arguments  that  have  occurred  to  me  for  giving 
to  the  picturesque  a  distinct  character.  I  have  had  the  satisfaction  of 
finding  many  persons  high  in  the  public  estimation  of  my  sentiment ; 
and,  among  them,  some  of  the  most  eminent  artists,  both  professors  and 
dilettanti.  On  the  other  hand,  I  must  allow,  that  there  are  persons 
whose  opinion  carries  great  weight  with  it,  who,  in  reality,  hold  the 
two  words  beautiful  and  picturesque  to  be  synonymous,  though  they 
do  not  say  so  in  express  terms :  with  those,  however,  I  do  not  mean 
to  argue  at  present,  though  well  prepared  for  battle.  Others  there  are 
who  allow,  indeed,  that  the  words  have  a  different  meaning,  but  deny 
that  there  is  any  distinct  character  of  the  picturesque  ;  to  those,  before 
I  close  this  part  of  my  essay,  I  shall  offer  a  few  reflections. 

Taking  it  then  for  granted  that  the  two  terms  are  not  synonymous, 
the  word  picturesque  must  have  some  appropriate  meaning ;  and,  there- 
fore, when  any  person  chooses  to  call  a  figure  or  a  scene  picturesque, 
rather  than  beautiful,  lie  must  have  some  reason  for  that  choice.  The 
definitions  which  have  been  given  of  picturesque  appear  to  me  very 
vague  and  unsatisfactory.     Instead  of  attempting  any  other,  I  will  do 
what  perhaps  may  be  of  more  service  in  ascertaining  its  meaning — I 
will  endeavour  to  account  for  the  introduction  of  a  word  into  modern 
languages,  which  has  nothing  that  in  the  smallest  degree  corresponds 
with  it  in  those  of  the  ancients.    The  two  classes  of  visible  objects 
which  have  been  distinguished  by  the  titles  of  the  sublime  and  the 
beautiful,  have,  in  all  ages,  and  in  all  countries,  long  before  the  inven- 
tion of  the  art  of  painting,  excited  the  emotions  of  astonishment,  and 
of  pleasure  :  it  seems  natural,  therefore,  that  such  objects,  when  their 
true  character  was  fully  and  happily  expressed  in  painting,  should  at 
once  have  been  felt  and  acknowledged  to  be  the  same  which  had  so 
often  struck  ami  pleased  them  in  reality ;   and  that  the  emotions, 
though  less  powerful,  should  have  been  of  a  similar  kind.    Such,  pro- 
bably was  the  case,  with  this  difference,  however — that  the  character 
and  qualities  of  beauty  lose  much  less  of  their  effect  from  being  repre- 
sented on  the  reduced  scale  of  a  picture  than  those  of  grandeur,  and 
are  likewise  more  familiar,  ami  more  immediately  obvious  to  the  bulk 
of  mankind — on  which  accounts,  I  shall  chiefly  confine  myself  to  them 
in  the  present  discussion.    These  two  classes  of  objects,  though  so  dis- 
tinct from  each  other,  have  one  common  relation — that  of  having  had 
at  all  times  a  powerful  and  universal  influence ;  and,  in  that  point  of 
view,  may  be  considered  as  one  general  division  ;  while  another  may, 
in  the  same  manner,  be  formed  of  those  objects  which  seem  to  have 
excited  little  or  no  interest  or  attention,  till  they  were  brought  into 


158 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


notice,  and  the  principles  on  which  they  deserved  to  excite  it,  had 
been  pointed  out  by  the  revived  art  of  painting,  and  particularly  that 
of  landscape  painting.  It  is  well  known  how  vague  and  licentious 
a  use  is  made  of  the  word  beautiful ;  but  I  think  it  will  be  allowed 
that  no  qualities  so  truly  accord  with  our  ideas  of  it  as  those  which  are 
in  a  high  degree  expressive  of  youth,  health,  and  vigour,  whether  in 
animal  or  vegetable  life — the  chief  of  which  qualities  are  smoothness 
and  softness  in  the  surface — fulness  and  undulation  in  the  outline — 
symmetry  in  the  parts — and  clearness  and  freshness  in  the  colour.  No 
one  can  well  doubt  that  these  are  essential  qualities  of  beauty,  who 
considers  what  must  be  the  consequence  of  substituting  those  of  an  op- 
posite kind ;  but  if  any  one  should  ask — and  it  has  been  doubted  by  a 
writer  of  high  reputation  on  these  subjects* — whether  they  are  suited 
to  the  painter,  the  question  may  be  answered  by  another — by  asking, 
what  is  the  rank  which  Guido,  Albano,  and  Correggio  hold  among 
painters  ?  Raphael,  the  first  name  among  the  moderns,  who  had 
grandeur  and  dignity  of  character  more  constantly  in  view  than  any  of 
the  last  mentioned  painters,  was  very  far  from  neglecting  beauty,  or 
the  qualities  assigned  to  it ;  and  if  we  go  back  to  the  ancients,  what 
were  the  pictures  most  highly  admired  while  they  existed,  and  whose 
fame  is  now  as  fresh  as  ever  ?  The  Helen  of  Zeuxis,  and  the  Venus 
of  Apelles,  in  which  no  qualities  could  have  had  place,  except  such 
as  accorded  with  beauty  in  its  strictest  sense. 

From  the  ideas  which  we  are  well  justified  in  forming  to  ourselves  of 
those  paintings,  it  seems  probable  that  the  delight  they  produced  was 
immediate  and  universal — that  to  see  and  feel  their  charms,  it  did  not 
require  any  knowledge  of  pictures,  or  any  habit  of  examining  them — 
however  such  knowledge  might  enhance  and  refine  the  pleasure — but 
only  the  common  sensibility  which  all  must  experience,  when  such 
objects  present  themselves  in  real  life.  Unfortunately,  not  a  trace  re- 
mains of  those,  and  other  exquisite  works  of  that  age — but  the  art 
since  its  revival  will  furnish  us  with  no  mean  examples  ;  and,  thanks 
to  that  of  engraving,  which  ought  to  have  been  coeval  with  it,  the  com- 
positions at  least  of  the  finest  paintings  are  very  generally  known.  If, 
then,  we  suppose  a  person  of  natural  sensibility  and  discernment,  but 
who  had  never  seen  a  picture,  to  have  been  shown  when  they  were  first 
painted,  the  Aurora  of  Guido,  the  Nymphs  and  Cupids  of  Albano,  or 
the  Leda  of  Correggio — pictures  in  which  nothing  but  what  is  youthful 
and  lovely  is  exhibited — he  must  readily  have  acknowledged  the  whole, 


Mr.  CJilpin. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


159 


and  every  part  to  be  beautiful ;  because,  if  lie  were  to  see  such  objects 
in  nature,  he  would  call  them  so,  and  view  them  with  delight.  The 
same  thing  must  have  happened  had  he  been  shown  a  picture  of  Claude, 
where  richly  ornamented  temples  and  palaces  were  accompanied  by 
trees  of  elegant  forms  and  luxuriant  foliage,  the  whole  set  off  by  the 
mild  glow  of  a  fine  evening ;  for  every  thing  he  saw  there,  he  would 
wish  to  see  and  to  dwell  upon  in  reality.  But  should  he  have  been 
shown  a  set  of  pictures,  in  which  a  number  of  the  principal  objects  were 
rough,  rugged,  and  broken,  with  various  marks  of  age  and  decay,  yet 
without  any  thing  of  grandeur  or  dignity,  he  must  certainly  have 
thought  it  strange  that  the  artists  should  choose  to  perpetuate  on  their 
canvass  such  figures,  animals,  trees,  buildings,  &c,  as  he  should  wish, 
if  he  saw  them  in  nature,  to  remove  from  his  sight.  He  might  after- 
wards, however,  begin  to  observe,  that  among  objects  which  to  him  ap- 
peared void  of  every  kind  of  attraction,  the  painters  had  decided  reasons 
of  preference — whether  from  their  strongly  marked  peculiarity  of 
character — from  the  variety  produced  by  sudden  and  irregular  devia- 
tion— from  the  manner  in  which  the  rugged  and  broken  parts  caught 
the  light,  and  from  those  lights  being  often  opposed  to  some  deep 
shadow — or  from  the  rich  and  mellow  tints  produced  by  various  stages 
of  decay,  all  of  which  he  had  passed  by  without  noticing,  or  had  merely 
thought  them  ugly,  but  now  began  to  look  at  with  some  interest,  he 
would  find  at  the  same  time,  that  there  were  quite  a  sufficient  number 
of  objects,  which  the  painter  would  perfectly  agree  with  him  in  calling 
ugly,  without  any  addition  or  qualification. 

Such  observations  as  I  have  just  supposed  to  be  made  by  a  single 
person,  must  have  gradually  occurred  to  a  variety  of  observers  during  the 
progress  of  the  art.  Many  of  them  may  have  seen  the  artists  at  work, 
and  remarked  the  pleasure  they  seemed  to  take  in  imitating,  by  spirited 
strokes  of  the  pencil,  any  rough  and  broken  objects — any  strongly 
marked  peculiarity  of  character,  or  of  light  and  shadow  ;  and  may  have 
observed  at  the  same  time  with  what  comparative  slowness  and  caution 
they  proceeded,  when  the  correct  symmetry — the  delicate  and  insensible 
transitions  of  colour — and  of  light  and  shadow  in  a  beautiful  human 
face  or  body  were  to  be  expressed ;  and  that  although  the  picture, 
when  finished  in  its  highest  perfection,  would  be  the  pride  and  glory  of 
the  art,  such  a  real  object  would  to  all  eyes  be  yet  more  enchanting. 
They  might  thence  be  led  to  conclude,  that  beauty,  (and  grandeur 
stands  upon  the  same  footing,)  whether  real  or  imitated,  is  a  source  of 
delight  which  all  men  of  liberal  minds  may  claim  in  common  with  the 
painter  ; — that  mere  ugliness  is  no  less  disgusting  to  him,  than  to  the 


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SIK  UVKDALE  PRICE 


rest  of  the  world  ;  but  that  a  11  uinl tor  of  objects,  neither  grand,  nor 
beautiful,  nor  ugly,  are  in  a  manner  the  peculiar  property  of  the 
painter  and  his  art,  being  by  them  first  illustrated,  and  brought  into 
notice  and  general  observation.  When  such  an  idea  had  once  begun  to 
prevail,  it  was  very  natural  that  a  word  should  be  invented,  and  soon 
be  commonly  made  use  of,  which  discriminated  the  character  of  such 
objects,  by  their  relation  to  the  artist  himself,  or  to  his  work.  We 
find  accordingly  that  the  Italians,  among  whom  painting  most  flourished, 
invented  the  word  pittoresco,  which  marks  the  relation  to  the  painter, 
and  which  the  French,  with  a  slight  change,  have  adopted  ;  while  the 
English  use  the  word  picturesque,  as  related  to  the  production.  What 
has  just  been  said,  will,  I  trust,  be  thought  to  account  with  some  pro- 
bability for  the  origin  of  the  term,  as  well  as  for  the  distinction  of  the 
character,  and  likewise  to  point  out  the  reasons  why  roughness,  sudden 
deviation,  and  irregularity,  are  in  a  more  peculiar  manner  suited  to  the 
painter,  than  the  opposite  and  more  popular  qualities  of  smoothness, 
undulation,  and  symmetry;  and  to  show  that  the  picturesque  may  justly 
claim  a  title  taken  from  the  art  of  painting,  without  having  an  exclu- 
sive reference  to  it. 

If  it  be  true  with  respect  to  landscape,  that  a  scene  may,  and  often 
does  exist,  in  which  the  qualities  of  the  picturesque — almost  exclusively  of 
those  of  grandeur  and  of  beauty — prevail;  and  that  persons  unacquainted 
with  pictures,  either  take  no  interest  in  such  scenes,  or  even  think  them 
ugly,  while  painters,  and  lovers  of  painting,  study  and  admire  them. 
If,  on  the  other  hand,  a  scene  may  equally  exist,  in  which,  as  far  as  the 
nature  of  the  case  will  allow,  the  qualities  assigned  to  the  beautiful  are 
alone  admitted,  and  from  which  those  of  the  picturesque  are  no  less 
studiously  excluded,  and  that  such  a  scene  will  at  once  give  delight  to 
every  spectator,  to  the  painter  no  less  than  all  others,  and  will,  by  all, 
without  hesitation  be  called  beautiful,* — if  this  be  true,  yet  still  no 
distinction  of  character  be  allowed  to  exist — what  is  it,  then,  which 
does  create  a  distinction  between  any  two  characters  ?  That  I  shall 
now  wish  to  examine ;  and  as  the  right  of  the  picturesque  to  a  cha- 
racter of  its  own  is  called  in  question,  I  shall  do  what  is  very  usual  in 
similar  cases,  inquire  into  the  right  of  other  characters,  whose  distinc- 
tion has  hitherto  been  unquestioned  ;  not  for  the  sake  of  disputing  their 
right,  but  of  establishing  that  of  the  picturesque,  by  showing  on  how 
much  stronger  and  broader  foundations  it  has  been  built. 

Envy  and  Revenge,  are  by  all  acknowledged  to  be  distinct  cha- 

*  Letter  to  Mr.  Repton,  page  1 37. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


161 


racterd  ;  uay,  both  of  them,  as  well  as  many  of  our  better  affections, 
have  been  so  often  personified  by  poets,  and  embodied  by  painters  and 
sculptors,  that  we  have  as  little  doubt  of  their  distinct  figurative  exist- 
ence, as  of  the  real  existence  of  any  of  our  acquaintance,  and  almost 
know  them  as  readily.  But  from  what  does  their  distinction  arise  ? 
From  their  general  effect  on  the  mind  ?  Certainly  not ;  for  their 
general  effect,  that  which  is  common  to  them  both,  and  to  others  of  the 
same  class,  is  ill-will  towards  the  several  objects  on  which  they  are 
exercised  ;  just  as  the  general  effect  of  the  sublime,  of  the  beautiful,  and 
of  the  picturesque,  is  delight  or  pleasure  of  some  kind  to  the  eye,  to 
the  imagination,  or  to  both.  It  appears,  therefore,  from  this  instance, 
(and  I  am  inclined  to  think  it  universally  true,)  that  distinction  of 
character  does  not  arise  from  general  effects,  but  that  we  must  seek  for 
its  origin  in  particular  causes.  I  am  also  persuaded,  that  it  is  from 
having  pursued  the  opposite  method  of  reasoning,  that  the  distinction 
between  the  beautiful  and  the  picturesque  has  been  denied.  The  truth 
of  these  two  positions  will  be  much  more  evident,  if  it  should  be  shown, 
that  the  causes  of  envy  and  revenge  no  less  plainly  mark  a  distinction, 
than  their  general  effect,  if  singly  considered,  would  imply  a  unity  of 
character.  The  cause  of  envy,  is  the  merit,  reputation,  or  good  fortune 
of  others  ;  that  of  revenge,  an  injury  received.  These  seem  to  me  their 
most  obvious  and  striking  causes,  and  certainly  sufficient  to  distinguish 
them  from  each  other.  But  let  the  most  acute  metaphysician  place  in 
one  point  of  view,  whatever  may  in  any  way  mark  the  boundaries 
which  separate  them,  then  let  his  distinctions  be  compared  with  those 
which  I  have  stated  to  exist  between  the  beautiful  and  the  picturesque, 
and  if  they  be  not  more  clear,  and  more  strongly  marked,  why  should 
they  have  a  privilege  which  is  denied  to  mine  ? 

It  has  been  argued  by  some,  that  the  sublime,  as  well  as  the  pic- 
turesque, is  included  in  the  beautiful ;  that  such  distinctions  as  Mr. 
Burke  and  myself  have  made,  are  too  minute  and  refined ;  and  that 
the  picturesque  especially,  is  only  a  mode  of  beauty.*  What,  then,  are 
envy  and  revenge  ?  are  they  in  a  less  degree  modes  of  hatred  ?  Yet 
those  who  are  most  averse  to  any  distinctions  in  the  other  case,  would 
hardly  object  to  it  in  this,  or  venture  to  say  that  all  the  useful  purposes 
of  language  would  be  answered,  if  there  were  only  one  term  to  express 
every  different  mode  of  ill-will  towards  our  fellow-creatures.  In  the 
usual  progress  of  society  towards  refinement,  as  new  distinctions  arise, 

*  The  difference  between  the  general  and  the  confined  sense  of  beauty,  is  discussed 
in  my  letter  to  Mr.  Repton,  page  135. 

It 


162 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


new  terms  are  invented ;  and  it  is  in  a  great  measure  from  their 
abundance  or  their  scarcity,  that  the  richness  or  the  poverty  of  any 
language  is  estimated,  while  its  precision  no  less  depends  on  the 
accuracy  with  which  they  are  employed. 

It  may  here  very  naturally  be  asked,  how  it  could  happen  that 
certain  distinctions  of  characters,  which,  according  to  my  statement, 
are  plain  and  manifest,  should  so  long  have  been  very  inaccurately 
made  out,  and  should  still  by  many  be  called  in  question,  when  a 
number  of  others,  which,  as  I  have  asserted,  are  separated  by  very  thin 
partitions,  have  for  ages  been  universally  acknowledged.  This  may 
easily  be  accounted  for ;  and  the  causes  of  accurate  distinction,  and  of 
general  agreement  in  the  one  case,  will  lead  to  those  of  inaccuracy  and 
doubt  in  the  other. 

All  that  concerns  our  speculative  ideas  and  amusements,  all  objects  of 
taste,  and  the  principles  belonging  to  them,  are  thought  of  by  a  small 
part  of  mankind ;  the  great  mass  never  think  of  them  at  all.  They 
are  studied  in  one  age,  neglected  in  another,  sometimes  totally  lost ; 
but  the  variety  of  human  passions  and  affections,  all  their  most  general 
and  manifest  effects,  and  their  minutest  discriminations,  have  never 
ceased  to  be  the  involuntary  study  of  all  nations  and  ages.  These  last 
have,  indeed,  at  various  times  been  particularly  investigated  by  specu- 
lative minds  ;  but  every  man  has  occasion  to  feel  but  too  strongly  the 
truth  of  their  separate  causes  and  effects,  either  from  his  own  experience, 
or  that  of  persons  near  and  dear  to  him  ;  nor  are  we  in  any  case  un- 
concerned spectators  where  they  operate. 

Had  it  in  the  nature  of  things  been  possible,  that  the  same  eager,  con- 
stant, and  general  interest  should  have  prevailed  with  respect  to  objects 
of  taste,  the  discriminations  might  have  been  hardly  less  numerous,  or 
less  generally  understood  and  acknowledged  ;  and  it  is  by  no  means 
impossible,  should  the  distinctions  in  question  continue  for  a  long  time 
together  the  subject  of  eager  discussion,  and  likewise  of  practical  appli- 
cation, that  new  discriminations,  and  new  terms  for  them  may  take 
place.  The  picturesque  might  not  only  be  distinguished  from  the  sub- 
lime, and  from  the  beautiful,  but  its  union  with  them,  or,  what  no  less 
frequently  occurs,  with  ugliness,  might,  when  nearly  balanced,  have  an 
appropriate  term.  At  present,  when  we  talk  of  a  picturesque  figure,  no 
one  can  guess  by  that  expression  alone,  to  which  of  the  other  characters 
it  may  be  allied  :  whether  it  be  very  handsome,  or  very  ugly  ;  in  gauze 
and  feathers,  or  in  rags.  Again,  if  we  speak  of  a  picturesque  scene  or 
building,  it  is  equally  uncertain  whether  it  be  of  a  hollow  lane,  a  heathy 
common,  an  old  mill  or  hovel,  or,  on  the  other  hand,  a  scene  of  rocks 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


163 


and  mountains,  or  the  ruin  of  some  ancient  castle  or  temple.  We  can, 
indeed,  explain  what  we  mean  by  a  few  more  words  ;  but  whatever 
enables  us  to  convey  our  ideas  with  greater  precision  and  facility,  must 
be  a  real  improvement  to  language.  The  Italians  do  mark  the  union  of 
beauty  with  greatness  of  size  or  character,  whether  in  a  picture  or  any 
other  object,  by  calling  it,  una  gran-be]\&  cosa  ; — I  do  not  mean  to  say 
that  the  term  is  always  very  accurately  applied,  but  it  shows  a  strong 
tendency  to  such  a  distinction.  But  in  English,  were  we  to  add  any 
part  of  the  word  picturesque  to  handsome,  or  ugly,  or  grand,  though 
such  composed  words  would  hardly  be  more  uncouth  than  many  which 
are  received  into  the  language,  they  would  be  sufficiently  so,  to  place  a 
very  formidable  barrier  of  ridicule  between  them  and  common  use.  To 
invent  new  terms,  supposing  the  object  of  sufficient  consequence,  is  per- 
haps still  more  open  to  ridicule.  Mr.  Burke  decided  in  favour  of  the 
word  delight,  to  express  a  peculiar  sense  of  pleasure  arising  from  a  pecu- 
liar cause  ;  but  the  sense  to  which  we  are  accustomed,  is  perpetually 
recurring  during  his  essay ;  and  out  of  it,  the  word  of  course  returns  to 
its  general  meaning  :  had  he  risked  an  entirely  new  word,  and  had  it 
withstood  the  first  inevitable  onset  of  ridicule,  and  grown  into  use,  the 
English  language  would  have  owed  one  more  obligation  to  one  of  its 
greatest  benefactors. 

£As  I  have  already  said,  there  can  be  no  objection  to  the  use  of 
words  which  may  in  any  way  assist  the  auditor  or  reader  in  more 
perfectly  comprehending  verbal  description,  even  although  they  should 
not  be  capable  of  any  thing  like  accurate  or  incontrovertible  definition. 
The  folly  lies  in  setting  up  such  terms  as  distinct  and  perfect  definitions, 
whilst  our  experience  every  day  proves  that  they  are  differently  defined 
almost  by  each  respective  individual  who  employs  them. — E.] 


1(U 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


CHAPTER  X. 

Having  now  examined  the  chief  qualities  that  in  such  various  ways 
render  objects  interesting — having  shown  how  much  the  beauty,  spirit, 
and  effect  of  landscape,  real  or  imitated,  depend  upon  a  just  degree  of 
variety  and  intricacy,  on  a  due  mixture  of  rough  and  smooth  in  the 
surface,  and  of  warm  and  cool  in  the  tints — having  shown,  too,  that  the 
general  principles  of  improving  are  in  reality  the  same  as  those  of  paint- 
ing— I  shall  next  inquire  how  far  the  principles  of  the  last  mentioned 
art  (clearly  the  best  qualified  to  improve  and  refine  our  ideas  of  nature) 
have  been  attended  to  by  improvers — how  far,  also,  those  who  first  pro- 
duced, and  those  who  have  continued  the  present  system,  were  capable 
of  applying  them,  even  if  they  had  been  convinced  of  their  importance. 

It  appears  from  Mr.  Walpole's  very  ingenious  and  entertaining 
treatise  on  modern  gardening,  that  Kent  was  the  first  who  introduced 
that  so  much  admired  change  from  the  old  to  the  present  system ;  the 
great  leading  feature  of  which  change,  and  the  leading  character  of 
each  style,  are  very  aptly  expressed  in  half  a  line  of  Horace  : — 

"  Mutat  quadrata  rotundis." 

[Kent,  who  was  born  in  1  685,  was  originally  a  coach-painter,  went 
to  Rome  to  study  as  an  artist,  but  never  arriving  at  any  degree  of 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


165 


eminence  in  the  art,  he  took  to  the  designing  of  furniture,  after  his  return 
to  his  own  country,  and  ultimately  to  park  architecture  and  landscape 
gardening.  He  commenced  his  operations  on  Stowe  in  Buckingham- 
shire, which  had  been  begun  by  Bridgeman  in  1714.  He  is  said  to 
have  declared,  that  his  taste  for  gardening  had  its  origin  in  the  perusal 
of  the  beautiful  descriptions  of  Spencer,  which  must  appear  some- 
what ludicrous  to  those  who  can  form  any  notion  of  the  formality  of 
his  style.  Walpole  tells  us,  that  "  the  great  principles  on  which  he 
worked  were  perspective,  and  light  and  shade.  Groups  of  trees  broke 
too  uniform  or  too  extensive  a  lawn ;  evergreens  and  woods  were  op- 
posed to  the  glare  of  the  champaign,  and  where  the  view  was  less  for- 
tunate, or  so  much  exposed  as  to  be  beheld  at  once,  he  blotted  out 
some  parts  by  thick  shades,  to  divide  it  into  variety,  or  to  make  the 
richest  scene  more  enchanting  by  reserving  it  for  a  farther  advance  of 
the  spectator.  Where  objects  were  wanting,  he  introduced  temples,  &c, 
but  he  especially  excelled  in  the  management  of  water.  The  gentle 
stream  was  taught  to  serpentine  seemingly  at  its  pleasure,  and,  where 
discontinued  by  different  levels,  its  course  appeared  to  be  concealed 
by  thickets  properly  interspersed,  and  glittered  again  at  a  distance, 
where  it  might  be  supposed  naturally  to  arrive.  Its  sides  were 
smoothed,  but  preserved  their  meanderings ;  a  few  trees  scattered  here 
and  there  on  its  edges,  and,  when  it  disappeared  among  the  hills, 
shades  descending  from  the  heights  leaned  towards  its  vanishing  point. 
He  followed  nature  even  in  her  faults.  In  Kensington  Gardens  he 
planted  dead  trees,  but  was  soon  laughed  out  of  this  excess.  His 
ruling  principle  was,  that  Nature  abhors  a  straight  line."  Bridgeman 
was  the  first  to  innovate  on  the  absolute  uniformity  which  had  pre- 
vailed till  his  time,  and,  however  faulty  the  style  adopted  by  him,  and 
by  Kent,  who  followed  him,  it  was  some  gain  to  have  innovated  on 
the  prejudices  which  till  then  existed. — E.] 

Formerly  every  thing  was  in  squares  and  parallelograms ;  now 
every  thing  was  reduced  by  Kent  into  segments  of  circles  and  ellipses 
— the  formality  still  remains,  the  character  of  that  formality  alone  is 
changed.  The  old  canal,  for  instance,  has  lost,  indeed,  its  straightness 
and  its  angles ;  but  it  is  become  regularly  serpentine,  and  the  edges 
remain  as  naked  and  as  uniform  as  before — avenues,  vistas,  and  straight 
ridings  through  woods,  are  exchanged  for  clumps,  belts,  and  circular 
roads  and  plantations  of  every  kind — straight  alleys  in  gardens,  and 
the  platform  of  the  old  terrace,  for  the  curves  of  the  gravel  walk. 
The  intention  of  the  new  improvers  was  certainly  meritorious,  for  they 
meant  to  banish  formality  and  to  restore  nature  ;  but  it  must  be  re- 


166 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


membercd,  that  strongly  marked,  distinct,  and  regular  curves,  unbroken 
and  undisguised,  are  hardly  less  unnatural  or  formal,  though  much  less 
grand  and  simple,  than  straight  lines  ;  and  that,  independently  of  mono- 
tony, the  continual  and  indiscriminate  use  of  such  curves,  has  an  ap- 
pearance of  affectation  and  of  studied  grace,  which  always  creates 
disgust. 

£1  certainly  do  conceive  that  any  such  metamorphosis  as  is  here 
described,  made  upon  any  place  executed  in  the  old  and  formal  style 
of  gardening,  would  be  productive  of  so  great  a  sacrifice  of  that  delight- 
ful association  which  we  always  have  with  the  olden  times,  as  would 
produce  any  thing  but  a  gain.  Let  me  here  avail  myself  of  this  oppor- 
tunity to  notice  some  of  those  specimens  of  this  style  which  have  come 
under  my  own  observation. 

It  is  true  that  some  of  the  accounts  which  we  find  in  old  authors 
regarding  ornamental  gardens  are  curious,  and  not  always  very  intel- 
ligible to  us  of  modern  times.  In  the  "  Genealogy  of  the  House  and 
Surname  of  Setoun,  by  Sir  Richard  Maitland  of  Ledington,  Knight," 
we  find  the  following  notice  of  the  garden  of  Winton  in  East  Lothian, 
which,  we  thence  know,  was  made  by  George  the  fourth  Lord  Setoun. 
"He  biggit  the  Place  of  Wintoun,  wt  the  zaird  and  gairdin  theirof. 
In  the  quhilk  gairding  I  have  sein  fyve  scoir  of  torris  of  tymber  about 
the  knottis,  ilk  ane  twa  cubit  hight,  hayand,  twa  cubit  bight,  twa 
knoppis  on  the  heid,  the  ane  above  the  uther,  als  grit  everie  ane  as  ane 
roll  boull,  ouer  gilt  wl  gold,  and  the  shankis  thairof  paintit  w*  dyvers 
heus  of  oylie  collours."  In  the  poetical  or  rhyming  "  Cronicle  of  the 
Hous  of  Setoun,"  also,  we  have  the  following  notice  regarding  the  gar- 
den-works of  this  same  George  fourth  Lord  Setoun  : — 

"  And  did  yor  gardings  grace 
W  statelie  stoupis,  as  than  did  weill  appeir." 

So  far  as  we  can  understand  these  descriptions,  we  cannot  altogether 
reconcile  the  practice  of  gardening  of  which  they  treat,  to  our  modern 
ideas,  nor  should  I  much  wish  to  see  them  imitated  in  these  days ;  and 
yet,  if  they  did  any  where  still  exist,  the  propriety  of  removing  them 
would,  I  think,  be  extremely  questionable.  But  we  can  quite  comprehend 
and  appreciate  the  roundels,  or  circular  galleries  or  towers  made  in  the 
garden  walls,  whence  views  of  the  open  country  were  to  be  enjoyed. 
These  roundels  are  still  to  be  seen  in  the  wall  of  the  old  garden  at 
Setoun,  another  place  belonging  to  the  same  ancient  family.  One  of 
these  roundels  was  occupied  by  the  person  and  attendants  of  James  I. 
of  England,  at  the  funeral  of  Robert  the  eighth  Lord  Setoun  and  .  first 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


167 


Earl  of  Winton ;  and  these,  with  the  ruins  of  the  beautiful  chapel, 
always  associated  with  the  name  of  Queen  Mary  of  Scotland,  with 
whom  that  family  were  so  intimately  linked,  are  now  the  only  rem- 
nants of  a  place  so  remarkable  for  the  visits  of  the  North  British 
sovereigns. 

Nothing,  as  I  think,  can  be  more  natural,  or  more  pleasing,  than 
to  discover  that  intense  design  has  been  at  work  in  the  immediate 
environs  of  a  house.    The  extent  to  which  this  design  is  to  be  carried, 
must,  in  propriety,  be  regulated  by  the  magnitude  and  importance 
of  the  building  itself,  and  the  scale  on  which  the  place  is  laid  out. 
Any  sudden  transition  from  that  manifest  design  which  must  necessarily 
be  displayed  by  the  architecture  itself,  to  that  absolute  wildness  which 
is  to  be  found  in  untamed  nature,  must  always  be  harsh  and  unpleasing. 
Straight  terraces,  terrace  walks,  statues,  fountains,  flights  of  steps, 
balustrades,  vases,  architectural  seats,  and  formal  parterres,  knots,  and 
flower-beds,  are  therefore  most  naturally  the  more  immediate  accom- 
paniments of  a  mansion.    They  are  employed,  as  it  were,  and  I  think 
properly  so  employed,  for  the  purpose  of  softening  off  art  into  nature, 
and  thus  removing  the  harsh  effect  of  sudden  transition,  in  the  same  way 
that  an  artist  softens  off  hardness  of  outline  in  his  picture.    The  unspar- 
ing innovators  of  the  improving  school  of  landscape  gardening,  seemed 
to  consider  that  it  was  impossible  to  carry  their  system  too  far,  and, 
accordingly,  they  shaved  away  all  those  rich  and  harmonious  attendants 
upon  the  architecture  of  the  house,  and  carried  bareness  and  poverty 
up  to  its  very  walls.    Few  perfect  samples  of  the  old  style,  therefore, 
are  now  to  be  found  ;  but  where  they  do  exist,  we  are  persuaded  that 
they  must  always  excite  the  liveliest  feelings  of  delight,  arising  not 
only  from  associations  with  the  olden  time,  but  from  those  connected 
with  that  sense  of  propriety  which  gave  birth  to  them.    I  know  of 
one  ancient  garden  of  this  description,  that  belonging  to  the  old  house 
of  Barncleuch  near  Hamilton,  the  property  of  Lady  Ruthven,  which  I 
visited  with  extreme  satisfaction  and  delight.    The  house  stands  on  the 
brink  of  a  steep  and  lofty  bank,  hanging  over  the  river  Avon,  at  a 
point  a  little  way  above  its  confluence  with  the  Clyde.    The  bank  is 
cut  out  and  built  up  into  terraces  of  different  degrees  of  level,  which 
are  connected  by  flights  of  steps,  and  decorated  by  fountains — arched 
recesses — stone  seats — and  all  these  adjuncts  usually  found  in  such  old 
domestic  gardens  ;  and  the  whole  is  thus  softened  into  the  happiest 
gradual  combination  with  the  wildness  of  the  neighbouring  scenery. 
The  history  of  the  original  formation  of  this  garden  is  very  curious.  It 
was  constructed  by  that  Lord  Belhaven  who  lived  about  the  middle  of 


168 


UlR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


the  seventeenth  century,  of  whom  Nicol  in  his  Diary,  (page  233,)  gives 
us  the  following  very  strange  history : — 

"  It  is  formerlie  observit,  that  the  Inglisches  haiffing  routtit  this 
natioun  at  the  fight  at  Dunbar,  upone  the  3d  September  1650,  they 
possest  this  kingdome,  and  did  foirfalt  the  maist  pairt  of  these  that 
wer  ingadged  in  that  unlauchful  ingadgement  in  the  Scottis  ingoing  to 
England ;  among  quhome  the  Dukes  of  Hamiltoun,  and  all  that  former- 
lie  were  forfait,  the  creditouris  persewit  the  cautioneris  for  the  Duke's 
dett  and  could  get  no  relieffe.    Among  these  cautioneris  the  Lord  Bel- 
hevin  being  one,  and  being  band  for  that  hous  in  greater  sumes  of  money 
than  he  was  able  to  pay,  he  resolves  to  leave  this  natioun,  that  he 
mycht  eschew  comprysinges  of  his  landis  and  imprissonement  of  his 
persone.    This  resolutioun  he  followes  in  this  manner.    He  takis  his 
jurney  to  England,  and  quhen  he  past  by  Silloway  (Solway)  Saudis,  he 
causit  his  servand  cum  bak  to  his  wyff  with  his  cloak  and  hatt,  and 
causit  it  to  be  vented  that  in  ryding  by  these  sandis,  both  he  and  his 
horse  quhuairon  he  raid  wer  sunkin  in  these  quick  sandis  and  drowned, 
nane  being  privy  to  this,  bot  his  lady  and  his  man  servand.    This  re- 
port passed  in  all  pairtes  as  guid  cunzie,  that  he  was  deid  and  perisched, 
for  the  space  of  six  yearis  and  moir ;  and  to  mak  this  the  moir  probable 
and  lykelie,  his  lady  and  chyldrene  went  in  dule  and  murning  the  first 
two  yeiris  of  his  absens,  so  that  during  these  six  yeiris  it  was  certifyed 
to  the  haill  cuntrey  that  he  was  deid  and  perisched ;  all  this  wes  done 
of  set  purpos  to  eschew  the  danger  of  the  cautionary  quhairin  he  lay 
for  that  Hous  of  Hamiltoun.    Eftir  his  ingoing  to  England,  he  strypit 
himselfF  of  his  apperell,  clothed  himselff  in  ane  base  servill  sute,  denyit 
his  name,  and  became  servand  to  ane  gairdner,  and  laborit  in  gardenes 
and  yairdis  during  the  haill  space  of  his  absence  ;  na  person  being  privy 
to  this  cours  bot  his  Lady,  (as  for  his  servand  he  went  to  other  service, 
not  knowing  that  his  old  Lord  haid  becum  a  gairdner)  till  efter  six 
yeiris  absens ;  efter  quhilk  tyme  and  space  the  Dutches  of  Hamiltoun 
haiffing  takin  ordour  with  the  dettis,  and  compereit  and  aggreyit  with 
the  creditouris,  than  he  returned  to  Scotland  in  Januar  last  1659,  efter 
sex  yeiris  service  in  England  with  a  gairdner,  to  the  admiratioun  of 
many,  for  during  that  haill  space  it  was  evir  thocht  he  wes  deid,  no 
persone  being  accessorie  to  his  secrecy  bot  his  awin  Lady  to  hir  great 
commendatioune.    By  this  meanis  his  landis  and  estait  wer  saiff,  and 
his  cautionarie  for  the  Hous  of  Hamiltoun  wes  transactit  for,  as  is  afoir- 
saidj  and  his  estait  both  personall  and  reall  fred  and  outquytt." 

I  believe  that  it  was  owing  to  my  friend  Mr.  Kirkpatrick  Sharp 
having  on  one  occasion  directed  Sir  Walter  Scott's  attention  to  this 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


169 


most  singular  story,  that  the  first  idea  occurred  to  the  great  author  of 
the  Bride  of  Lammermoor,  that  he  should  terminate  the  existence  of  the 
Master  of  Ravenswood  by  a  death  similar  to  that  which  was  thus  feigned 
by  Lord  Belhaven,  and  which  Sir  Walter  has  made  so  sublimely  affect- 
ing as  the  final  fate  of  his  hero.  But  the  object  which  I  have  most 
particularly  in  view,  in  my  present  introduction  of  this  piece  of  history 
is,  that  I  may  be  enabled  to  mention,  that  it  was  the  knowledge  which 
Lord  Belhaven  thus  acquired,  during  his  six  years'  hard  horticultural 
labour  in  England,  that  enabled  him  to  lay  out  and  construct  this 
beautiful  old  terrace  garden  of  Barncleuch.  A  fragment  of  this  lovely 
specimen  of  this  ancient  Lord's  taste,  is  given  in  the  frontispiece  to  the 
present  work ;  and  however  small  this  sample  of  the  terraced  garden 
may  be,  it  is  believed  that  it  may  yet  be  enough  to  give  to  the  mind  of 
any  one  of  fine  taste,  very  agreeable  suggestions  as  to  the  beauty  and 
richness  of  the  effect  of  the  whole. 

It  is  a  happy  circumstance  that  this  architectural  style  of  ornament- 
ing the  environs  of  rural  dwellings,  is  rapidly  regaining  its  footing 
amongst  us.  Many  domestic  terrace  gardens  are  now  every  day  con- 
structing, and  we  have  reason  to  hope  that  all  that  is  now  wanting  is  a 
little  time  to  make  them  very  universal,  and  to  give  the  fullest  effect 
to  them,  by  allowing  growth  to  those  taller  shrubs  and  trees  of  an 
architectural  character  with  which  they  will  naturally  be  enriched. 

Whilst  I  am  upon  this  subject  of  the  formal  style  of  gardening,  I 
must  be  permitted  very  particularly,  yet  shortly,  to  notice  a  very 
splendid,  though  much  ruined  specimen  of  it,  on  the  more  extended 
scale,  which  I  have  had  opportunities  of  visiting  more  than  once — I 
mean  Castle-Kennedy  in  Wigtonshire,  the  property  of  my  much- 
valued  friend  the  Earl  of  Stair.  This  place,  indeed,  is  by  far  the 
largest  in  extent  of  any  in  the  same  style  with  which  I  am  ac- 
quainted in  our  own  country — and  I  shall  therefore  attempt  to  give  a 
general  description  of  it.  Two  natural  lakes — one  called  the  White 
Loch,  containing  above  one  hundred  and  nineteen  acres,  and  the  other, 
called  the  Black  Loch,  of  above  one  hundred  and  twenty-three  acres  of 
water — are  divided  by  a  neck  of  land,  swelling  gently,  though  not 
regularly  so,  to  its  crest,  where  stand  the  ruins  of  the  ancient  castle. 
This  neck  of  land  comprises  rather  more  than  seventy-one  acres,  which 
were  all  laid  out  above  a  hundred  years  ago  by  the  great  Field-Mar- 
shal Earl  of  Stair,  in  the  most  perfect  manner  of  the  formal  style  of 
which  I  am  now  treating.  The  outlines  of  both  lakes  are  left  irregu- 
larly sweeping  as  nature  formed  them  ;  but,  from  all  that  now  remains, 
it  is  manifest  that  not  one  square  yard  of  these  seventy-one  acres,  which 


170 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


divide  them  from  each  other,  was  left  un worked  upon  by  the  spade. 
Not  only  were  the  whole  plantations  made  with  scrupulous  rectilinear 
accuracy,  with  the  exception  of  certain  regular  circles,  equally  formal, 
from  which  straight  lines  took  their  origin  of  divergence,  but  the  whole 
ground  itself  was  cut  down  or  heaped  up,  and  shaped  into  rectilinear 
ton-aces,  mounts,  bastions,  and  slopes,  of  every  possible  variety  of 
conception  of  rectilinear  figure.  The  plantations,  all  regular  in  them- 
selves, seem  to  have  had  their  boundary  lines  formed  of  beech,  horn- 
beam, holly,  yew,  and  laurel,  all  clipped  into  the  most  formal  vegetable 
walls.  I  can  procure  no  information  as  to  the  individual  who  drew  the 
original  plan  of  the  work — for  work  it  may  well  be  denominated — but 
from  the  mere  fact,  so  well  known,  that  it  was  the  same  Marshal 
Earl  of  Stair  who  planted  the  place  of  New  Liston  in  West  Lothian, 
according  to  the  plan  of  the  battle  of  Dettingen,  we  may  reasonably 
conclude  that  he  had  himself  a  very  considerable  hand  in  designing  the 
formalities  of  Castle-Kennedy — especially  when  we  know  that  his 
residence  as  ambassador  at  Paris  and  the  Hague,  and  his  long  intimate 
and  extensive  acquaintance  with  the  grandest  specimens  of  the  same 
style  on  the  Continent,  must  have  amply  fitted  him  for  such  a  task. 
The  original  plan  for  Castle-Kennedy  is  now  before  me — but,  from 
various  pencil  marks  upon  it,  as  well  as  from  a  knowledge  of  all  that 
now  remains,  I  should  say  that  there  had  been  considerable  deviation 
from  it  in  the  execution — or  perhaps  much  of  its  more  expensive  con- 
ceptions were  left  unexecuted.  That  the  person  who  superintended 
the  actual  work  itself  was  his  lordship's  gardener,  Thomas  M'Calla,  is 
sufficiently  proved  by  the  following  very  curious  letters  from  him  to  his 
master,  in  which  the  mention  of  the  name  of  Mount  Marlborough, 
shows  that,  in  all  probability,  not  only  each  particular  formal  spot  was 
formally  designated,  but  that  even  here  the  camjiaigns  in  which  the 
gallant  Marshal  had  gained  so  many  laurels  were  not  forgotten  whilst 
he  was  engaged  in  the  more  peaceful  occupation  of  planting  them. 
The  length  of  time  which  had  elapsed  between  the  dates  of  these  two 
letters,  proves  that  the  work  was  not  completed  in  a  day. 

Castellkenedy,  march  ye  2nd  1731. 
My  Lord,  I  haue  Teken  the  fredom  to  aquant  your  Lordshep  of 
uhat  I  haue  ben  Douing  In  the  gardens  at  Castellkenedy :  sine  the  Last 
tim  I  urot  to  your  lordshep,  the  gretest  busines  ue  haue  ben  about  uas 
forming  the  Ridge  of  hills  aboue  the  blak  loch,  uhich  I  think  In  short 
fcim  uill  be  finished  to  greter  perfection  then  any  thing  that  [lias  been] 
don  yet.    Ther  uas  no  mancr  of  Earth  that  uas  good  on  that  Ridge 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


171 


but  uhat  I  uas  obledged  to  fors  uith  barous  from  the  lou  grounds.  The 
mers  uas  not  abell  to  drau  up,  the  bres  bing  so  sti.  I  uold  ben  don 
uith  that  Ridge  or  nou ;  but  the  plantin  seson  bing  In  hand  at  the  sem 
tim,  Caused  me  to  leue  It  and  plant  uhat  plantin  uas  to  be  planted 
Eueri  uher  uher  It  uas  to  be  doon.  The  uether  Is  uery  dry  hir.  I 
Could  not  plant  any  tris  this  year  withut  Emediet  uatring  •  the  Ingin 
In  this  kess  Is  of  ueri  great  use  to  us.  On  seterday  feberuar  the 
last  I  Reciued  the  frut  tris  from  neulistoun,  uhich  I  haue  planted 
all  of  them  In  Earth  that  neuer  had  ben  used  befor,  which  I  houp 
will  be  ueri  helpfull  to  the  them.  I  got  allso  som  vins,  to  uit,  the 
Rid  fruntonis  vin,  and  the  whit  mus  Cadin  vin,  and  the  Rid  Corant 
vin,  with  som  figs ;  but  the  figs  ar  sukers ;  It  Is  long  or  they  bir.  I 
haue  led  all  the  lo  branches  of  the  fig  in  the  old  garden,  uhich  uill  be 
Exslent  plants  next  year.  I  haue  Remoued  the  old  berik  of  the  perter 
uhich  meks  that  pies  look  much  beter  then  It  Coulld  Qiave]  don  other 
uays.  I  haue  ueri  great  us  for  gras  seeds  this  year,  I  hauing  Dubell 
the  ground  to  sow  this  year  that  Euer  I  had  befor.  I  haue  gathered  all 
the  hay  sids  about  the  hay  staks,  but  It  uill  not  nir  ser  me ;  I  uold 
Rether  let  the  ualks  grou  of  themsellues  befor  I  uold  so  any  Rygras 
sid  on  them.  I  got  a  leter  from  Irland  last  uik,  giuen  me  ane  acount 
that  the  yeus  and  sherubs  wold  be  ouer  in  short  tim.  The  uork  I  am 
nou  about  Is  the  finishin  of  the  uork  I  haue  ben  about  this  uintr, 
which  I  beliue  uill  be  uork  Enugh  till  the  tim  the  gardens  alredi  med 
be  unting  ther  deu  kiping ;  neuer  the  less,  I  shall  fell  In  nothing  I  am 
Capebell  to  geet  don.  I  haue  taken  the  ashes  of  the  bullingren ;  It 
apers  to  be  ueri  much  the  beter.  I  haue  altered  the  litel  mount  on 
Colcaldi  Park  Dik  to  the  Center  lin  of  tlie  grauell  uallk  that  gos  from 
the  bullingren,  It  bing  much  mor  agriabell  then  it  was  uhen  of  at  a  sid. 
I  disin  to  plant  seuerall  of  the  uallks  In  the  sid  next  the  bullingren, 
uher  ther  is  no  hedges,  with  pirimid  holis  and  yeus,  Is  all  at  present  I 
haue  to  trubell  your  lordshep  uith,  uishing  god  may  send  your  lordshep 
safe  and  ueri  shon  to  gallauay.  If  I  Durst  beg  your  lordshep  ansuer 
Concerning  uhat  your  lordshep  uold  haue  Doon,  It  uold  be  ueri  satis - 
fing  to  him  who  Disirs  faithful] i  to  serue  your  Lordshep,  uhill  I  am, 

Thomas  M'Calla. 

Castellkenedy,  Janr  ye  5th  1738. 
I  Reciued  your  lordshep's  leter  of  The  Tenth  of  dcember.    I  am 
nou  Diging  the  ground  to  Inlarg  the  planting  at  the  baluadair  as  your 
lordshep  ordered.    I  am  also  Remouing  that  strip  of  planten  on  the 
uest  sid  of  the  flouring  sherub  uildernes,  the  Alterations  that  uas  med 


172 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


the  last  year  and  this  on  both  sids  of  the  flouring  sherub  uildernes,  and 
the  perter  beutyfing  that  sid  to  perfection  from  mount  malborou  and 
mount  Eliner ;  ther  can  be  no  finer  prospect  then  it  nou  is.  I  am  still 
continuing  the  pruning  the  tris  in  the  garden.  I  haue  begon  to  plant 
the  bre  at  the  whyt  loch  sid  as  ue  com  in  from  the  loch  End;  I  haue 
planted  a  lin  of  uery  good  bich  at  the  foot  of  the  bre.  I  uas  obledged 
to  fors  Earth  to  plant  them  in,  for  ther  is  no  Earth  in  that  bre ;  it  is  a 
lous  dry  runin  sand ;  if  the  under  lin  of  tris  grou,  it  uill  Couer  that 
bre  uery  uell  ther.  Ther  is  no  tri  uill  grou  on  the  fac  of  that  bre,  it 
bing  so  lous  dray  sand,  without  any  mixter  of  Earth ;  so  it  is  the  planten 
at  the  fot  of  the  bre  most  beutyfar  it.  It  is  uery  uet  nou  about  the 
burns  at  ochtelur :  ue  Canot  yet  begen  to  plant  ther ;  but  I  set  them 
to  uork  to  res  alders  at  the  loch  sid  hir,  and  resing  and  gatherin  all  the 
tris  that  ue  Can  get  to  plant  at  Ochtelur.  Uhen  the  tris  is  all  resed 
and  redy  at  hand,  they  uill  be  son  planted  uhen  the  uether  grous  drier. 
Your  lordshep  disirs  me  to  giue  som  money  to  the  masons  hir,  but  I 
ashour  your  lordshep  I  haue  not  on  peny  to  my  sellf.  Your  lordshep 
ordered  Mr.  Roos  to  giue  me  tuenty  pound  of  my  by  gon  uages,  but 
he  uold  not  giue  me  on  farthen.  I  am  uery  sor  straitned,  for  som 
money  I  am  deu  to  som  pipell  hir  Causes  me  nou  to  aplay  to  your 
lordshep  for  rellif.  Mr.  Rooss  uill  not  giue  me  my  liuery  meall  till  he 
got  neu  ordors  from  your  lordshep ;  so  I  houp  your  lordshep  uill  mind 
to  ordor  me  my  liuery  meall  as  formerly.  I  thank  god  I  haue  your 
lordshep  to  aply  to  ;  I  sie  hou  it  uold  be  uith  me  uer  it  otheruays.  I 
sent  to  Charles  fergeson  the  glaser  about  the  glas  for  the  melons :  he 
sims  to  be  uery  nis  about  it ;  yet  he  sent  me  uord  that  I  uold  get  it. 
Your  lordshep  disired  me  to  let  you  knou  uhat  I  uold  uant  for  the  gar- 
dens and  my  sellf.  I  uill  uant  nothing  for  the  gardens  this  seson  but 
the  fir  sid.  If  the  old  garden  uall  had  ben  Rough  Cast,  I  uold  uanted 
som  tris  to  a  planted  on  it.  I  uold  be  glad  that  your  lordshep  uold 
ordor  it  to  be  Rough  Cast  this  spring  that  it  might  be  planted  in 
October.  The  uether  lies  ben  prety  much  inclind  to  rain  thes  thre  uiks 
past,  and  an  strong  uind,  but  hes  not  hindered  me  any  thiug  as  to  my 
uork.  I  uish  your  lordshep  and  my  ledy  stairs  a  uery  good  neu  year, 
and  mony  of  them,  is  al  at  present  from  your  lordshep  most  humbell 
and  obedent  sert 

Thomas  M'Calla. 

Castle-Kennedy  was  burned  by  some  accident  in  the  time  of  the 
Marshal  Earl  of  Stair,  when  the  family  were  compelled  to  occupy  the 
buildings  at  Culhorn,  about  a  mile-and-a-half  distant.    These  had  been 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


173 


originally  erected  as  barracks  for  the  reception  of  his  lordship's  regi- 
ment of  dragoons,  the  Scots  Greys — and  each  succeeding  proprietor 
having  added  his  own  desideratum  to  the  buildings,  this  has  ever  since 
continued  to  be  the  family  mansion  in  that  quarter.  In  approaching 
the  ancient  place  from  Culhorn,  as  matters  now  are,  you  enter  by  a 
gate  into  a  straight  avenue  between  trees  of  not  many  years'  growth, 
down  the  long  vista,  between  which  the  eye  is  carried  to  the  waters  of 
the  AVhite  Loch,  and  quite  across  its  surface  to  the  neck  of  land  beyond 
it,  where  it  travels  up  another  avenue  leading  from  the  lake  to  the 
point  where  rise  the  picturesque  ruins  of  the  old  castle.  Having 
reached  the  margin  of  the  lake,  the  road  sweeps  away  to  the  right  and 
runs  around  the  shore  under  a  high  sloping  bank,  still  fortunately 
covered  with  those  beeches  alluded  to  by  Mr.  M'Calla  in  his  last  letter, 
as  having  been  planted  by  him  "  at  the  foot  of  the  bre,"  and  which  are 
now  of  large  growth.  The  road  then  diving  through  some  younger 
wood,  comes  to  a  sudden  turn,  whence  it  descends  directly  on  a 
handsome  old  bridge,  which  carries  it  across  a  straight  artificial  canal 
of  connection  between  the  two  lakes,  which  thus  converts  the  neck  of 
land  into  a  peninsula.  Immediately  on  crossing  the  bridge,  a  walled 
garden  is  seen  occupying  the  ground  to  the  right,  and  the  road  climbs 
an  ascent,  under  ancient  trees,  and  amidst  formally  cut  banks,  until 
reaching  the  extremity  of  a  straight  avenue,  you  are  by  it  enabled  to 
drive,  by  a  gentle  ascent,  quite  up  to  the  large  open  space  where  stand 
the  ruins  of  the  castle,  with  the  formally  cut  ground,  and  shaven  turf 
sloping  away  from  it.  There  much  of  the  original  plan  of  the  place 
becomes  intelligible,  though  grievously  devastated  and  ruined  by  the 
remorseless  hatchet  of  the  predecessor  Of  the  present  Earl,  which, 
judging  from  the  roots  of  the  felled  trees  yet  remaining  in  the  ground, 
must  have  committed  slaughter,  right  and  left,  without  the  smallest 
discrimination.  There  seems  to  have  been  no  particle  of  judicious 
thought  exerted  by  him  who  wielded  the  murderous  weapon,  which, 
whilst  he  was  bent  upon  the  slaughter  of  a  certain  value  of  timber, 
might  have  led  him  to  have  produced  the  money  by  thinning  out  the 
several  groves,  and  so  to  have  left  the  plan  itself  entire.  This  would 
have  been  too  troublesome,  as  well  as  tedious  and  inconvenient  from  its 
delay.  The  axe  was  therefore  applied  at  one  angle  of  a  grove,  and  on 
it  went  felling  all  before  it,  till  every  individual  of  the  whole  phalanx 
lay  prostrate.  No  longer  does  one  formal  grove  now  "  nod  at  its 
brother  " — but  here  and  there  they  stand  sighing  in  the  wind  for  those 
which  are  now  departed.  And  then  as  to  individual  trees — hollies, 
ilexes,  and  yews — all  of  the  grandest  growth — have  been  mingled  in 


174 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


one  common  destruction  with  the  more  ordinary  forest  timber.  But, 
with  all  this,  no  one  can  look  upon  the  scene  without  entertaining 
some  feeling  of  thankfulness  that  so  much  wood,  and  so  many  fine 
evergreens  should  have  been  permitted  yet  to  remain,  and  that  the 
present  Earl  should  still  have  so  much  left  to  encourage  him  in  the 
work  of  restoration — as  to  the  propriety  of  which  my  humble  judgment 
was  immediately  formed  the  moment  I  saw  the  place.  Indeed,  any 
man  of  taste  would  require  nothing  more  than  a  glance  at  the  place,  and 
a  consideration  of  the  great  scale  on  which  its  plan  is  carried  out,  to  be 
at  once  of  opinion  that  its  restoration  should  be  immediate  and  com- 
plete. Although  formality  is  strictly  observed  throughout  every  part 
of  it,  yet  it  is  replete  with  these  two  great  charms,  intricacy  and 
variety.  These  would  of  themselves  be  sufficient  to  save  the  whole 
from  condemnation.  But  when  we  come  to  look  upon  it  as  associated 
with  the  recollections  of  its  antiquity — whilst  we  feel  that  we  cannot 
walk  through  it  without  in  fancy  descrying  gay  young  men  and  lovely 
women  traversing  its  alleys — seen  at  a  distance  as  we  cross  its  vistas  — 
or  seated  in  sportive  yet  decorous  groups  upon  its  smooth  shaven  turf, 
forming  Watteau  pictures  in  every  direction — or  floating  in  gilded 
gondolas  on  the  unruffled  bosom  of  either  of  its  lakes,  whilst  the  de- 
parting rays  of  a  hot  summer  s  sun  pour  all  their  glories  over  its  surface 
— and  soft  sounds  of  lutes,  and  mingled  voices  come  stealing  on  the 
ear ;  every  mind  embued  with  taste  must  call  aloud  for  its  restoration. 

How  then  is  this  best  to  be  effected  ? — To  begin  with  the  mansion  : 
my  love  for  the  old  Scottish  style  of  house  is  so  great,  that  under  other 
circumstances  I  should  have  been  disposed  to  have  recommended  the 
restoration  of  the  ruins  of  the  old  castle,  with  such  additions  in  the 
same  style  as  might  be  required  ;  but  as  it  is  of  an  era  of  construction 
many  ages  previous  to  that  of  the  grounds,  I  think  it  would  now  be 
better  to  remove  it  entirely,  and  to  raise  on  its  site  a  lengthened  pile 
of  structure,  of  a  size  proportioned  to  the  grandeur  of  the  subject,  and 
— parva  com/ponere  magnis — of  a  character  somewhat  resembling  that 
of  Versailles.  This  should  stand  on  a  noble  Roman  arched  architec- 
tural terrace  running  east  and  west  on  the  ridge.  The  geometrical 
shapes  into  which  the  ground  was  originally  formed  must  all  be  perfectly 
restored,  together  with  all  these  geometrical  groves  which  were  so  cruelly 
sacrificed ;  and  in  order  that  the  trees  may  rush  quickly  up  into  maturity 
every  possible  means  and  appliance  must  be  used,  and  the  same  means 
must  be  employed  to  force  up  the  boundary  hedges,  which  must  all  be  of 
yew  or  holly.  As  these  last  grow  up  I  would  have  them  clipped  with 
the  most  scrupulous  attention  ;  but  I  would  not  carry  the  topiary  art 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


175 


upwards  to  the  trees  rising  above  them,  not  only  because  the  older 
groves  that  still  remain  have  long  since  so  far  escaped  from  the  thraldom 
of  the  shears,  as  to  render  any  attempt  to  subject  them  again  to  their 
dominion  utterly  hopeless — but  because  I  think  that  a  better  effect  will 
be  produced  by  allowing  nature  a  certain  license  in  this  particular.  In 
my  plantations  I  should  avail  myself  of  all  the  advantages  which  the 
immensely  extensive  recent  introduction  and  domestication  of  foreign 
trees  and  shrubs  now  afford.  Moreover,  I  should  introduce  every 
thing  that  could  be  effected  by  fountains,  architecture,  or  sculpture,  to 
aid  me  in  producing  a  perfect  whole ;  and  I  would  likewise  carry  out 
the  execution  of  all  those  parts  from  the  old  original  plan  noticed 
above,  where  the  present  state  of  things  would  admit  of  the  introduc- 
tion of  them.  Perhaps  the  reader  may  ask  whether  my  suggestion, 
that  the  whole  of  this  extensive  peninsula  should  thus  be  laid  off  with 
the  square  rule  and  plummet,  is  not  at  variance  with  what  I  have 
already  maintained,  that  such  formality  ought  not  to  go  much  beyond 
the  immediate  environs  of  the  house  ;  but  let  it  be  remembered  that 
the  limit  of  its  actual  extent  must  depend  entirely  on  the  scale  on  which 
the  whole  is  carried  on.  I  would  hold  that  the  whole  seventy-one  acres 
of  the  peninsula  of  Castle-Kennedy  ought  to  be  considered  as  the  archi- 
tectural garden  that  is  to  be  in  conjunction  with  the  mansion  ;  and  then 
beyond  the  two  lakes — and  in  the  country  surrounding  them — I  would 
produce  so  great  an  extent  of  woody  wilderness,  as  would  reduce  that 
of  the  seventy-one  acres  of  artificially  formed  ground  into  its  due  propor- 
tion, and  give  it  full  value  from  the  happy  contrast  it  would  produce, 
softened  as  that  contrast  would  be  by  the  intervention  of  the  two  broad 
sheets  of  water  afforded  by  the  lakes.  This,  therefore,  in  my  estimation, 
ought  not  to  be  considered  as  any  infringement  on  the  doctrine,  that  the 
formality  of  the  rectilinear  style  should  never  be  permitted  to  push  itself 
too  far  into  the  neighbouring  grounds,  seeing  that  the  proper  distance 
to  which  it  is  to  be  allowed  to  go  must  always  be  relative  to  the  magni- 
tude of  the  mansion,  and  the  extent  of  the  subject  to  be  worked  upon, 
and  besides  this,  in  the  case  of  Castle-Kennedy,  which  is  a  subject  quite 
unique  in  itself,  the  nearer  margins  of  the  two  lakes  and  the  canal,  are 
there  the  natural  boundaries  for  this  species  of  architectural  gardening. 
-E.] 

But  when  carried  far  beyond  the  precincts  of  the  house,  the  old  style 
had  indisputably  defects  and  absurdities  of  the  most  obvious  and  striking 
kind.  Kent,  therefore,  is  entitled  to  some  praise,  as  other  reformers 
who  have  broken  through  narrow,  inveterate,  long-established  pre- 
judices ;  and  who,  thereby,  have  prepared  the  way  for  more  liberal 


176 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


notions,  although,  by  their  own  practice  and  example,  they  may  have 
substituted  other  narrow  prejudices  and  absurdities  in  the  room  of  those 
which  they  proscribed.  It  must  be  owned,  at  the  same  time,  that,  like 
other  reformers,  he  and  his  followers  demolished,  without  distinction, 
the  costly  and  magnificent  decorations  of  past  times,  and  all  that  had 
been  long  held  in  veneration ;  and  among  them,  many  things  which  still 
deserved  to  have  been  respected  and  adopted.  Such,  however,  is  the 
zeal  and  enthusiasm  with  which,  at  the  early  period  of  their  success, 
novelties  of  every  kind  are  received,  that  the  fascination  becomes 
general,  and  the  few  who  may  then  see  their  defects,  hardly  dare  to 
attack  openly,  what  a  multitude  is  in  arms  to  defend.  It  is  reserved  for 
those,  who  are  further  removed  from  that  moment  of  sudden  change  and 
strong  prejudice,  to  examine  the  merits  and  defects  of  both  styles. 
But  how  are  they  to  be  examined  ?  By  those  general  and  unchanging 
principles,  which  best  enable  us  to  form  our  judgment  of  the  effect  of 
all  visible  objects,  but  which,  for  the  reasons  I  before  have  mentioned, 
are  very  commonly  called  the  principles  of  painting.*  These  general 
principles,  not  those  peculiar  to  the  practice  of  the  art,  are,  in  my  idea, 
universally  applicable  to  every  kind  of  ornamental  gardening,  in  the 
most  confined  as  well  as  the  most  enlarged  sense  of  the  word.  My 
business  at  present  is  almost  entirely  with  the  latter,  with  what  may  be 
termed  the  landscapes  and  the  general  scenery  of  the  place,  whether 
under  the  title  of  grounds,  lawn,  park,  or  any  other  denomination. 

[[Nothing  can  be  more  truly  sensible  than  this  distinction.  Were  the 
principles  peculiarly  applicable  to  the  mere  practice  of  the  art  of  paint  - 
ing to  be  absolutely  employed  as  the  rules  of  landscape  gardening,  we 
should  not  only  find  that  this  latter  art  would  be  bound  in  fetters  of 
the  most  tyrannical  description,  but  the  effects  which  such  a  system 
would  produce  would  be  lamentably  deficient.  I  am  quite  prepared 
to  support  the  opinion,  that  the  principles  by  which  the  landscape 
gardener  ought  to  be  guided,  are  those  general  principles  which  are  to 
be  gathered  from  the  study  of  the  best  works  of  landscape  painters, 
which,  by  the  way,  will  be  found  to  be  principles  fully  as  valuable  for 
enabling  the  professor  of  landscape  gardening  to  guard  against  error, 
as  for  giving  him  hints  for  the  composition  of  real  scenery.  It  is  im- 
possible to  create  a  real  landscape,  with  its  foreground,  middleground, 
and  distance,  that  can  be  capable  of  producing  its  effect  from  more  than 
one  point.  Then  the  attempt  to  produce  any  one  such  perfect  picture  as 
this  may  ruin  the  general  composition  of  the  place  in  fifty  other  different 


Pa<*e  64. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


177 


points.  Yet,  if  the  distance  be  within  the  power  of  the  improver,  and, 
at  the  same  time,  if  it  be  not  beyond  the  reach  of  improvable  effect — 
such  improvements  may  be  made  upon  its  wooding  or  otherwise,  as 
may  make  it  a  more  pleasing  feature  when  viewed  from  any  part  of  the 
grounds.  The  middle-grounds  must  of  course  alter  their  position,  as  well 
as  their  appearance,  with  relation  to  the  distance,  whenever  the  spectator 
moves  from  one  point  of  view  to  another.  But  all  the.se  various  points 
should  be  duly  considered  and  studied,  and  such  alterations  made  on  the 
middle-grounds,  whether  by  addition  to,  or  reduction  from  their  masses 
— or  by  the  opening  or  the  loosening  of  their  groves  or  woods,  as  may, 
if  possible,  leave  them  at  least  inoffensive  to  the  eye,  from  whatsoever 
part  of  the  place  they  may  be  viewed.  As  to  foregrounds,  it  is  well  to 
attend  to  and  heighten  the  effect  which  they  may  produce  from  some 
of  the  more  important  points.  But  in  doing  this,  as  well  as  in  his  in- 
terference with  those  parts  of  the  grounds  which  have  the  relation  of 
middle-grounds  to  that  which  may  be  considered  as  the  most  important 
distance,  he  must  take  care  that  he  may  be  guilty  of  no  operation  which 
may  in  any  degree  injure  the  general  effect  and  character  of  the  place, 
either  when  it  is  considered  as  a  place  to  look  at,  or  as  a  place  to  ramble 
through  and  enjoy.  If  we  study  the  manner  in  which  Claude  designs 
his  pictures,  we  shall  find  that  from  his  clearly  made  out,  though  very 
frequently  deep-shadowed  foreground,  he  carries  your  eye  directly  into 
his  middle-grounds,  which  are  varied,  and  often  of  great  expanse.  But 
you  cannot  in  reality  go  into  his  canvass  to  try  the  landscape  from 
another  point.  If,  then,  you  could  compare  a  real  scene  which,  when 
beheld  from  one  particular  point,  should  be  equal  to  such  a  picture,  it 
may  be  easily  imagined  that  great  sacrifices  would  be  required  through- 
out the  whole  extent  of  the  pleasure-grounds,  in  order  to  its  production. 
This  one  example  appears  to  me  to  be  sufficient  to  explain  how  neces- 
sary it  is  to  sacrifice  these  principles,  which  are  peculiar  to  the  practice 
of  the  art  of  painting,  in  order  to  submit  one's  self  to  the  guidance  of 
those  great  general  principles,  which  may  be  collected  from  a  liberal 
study  of  the  works  of  the  best  masters,  whence  the  landscape  gardener 
may  gather  enlarged  views,  which  will  at  least  preserve  him  from  the 
risk  of  doing  anything  to  outrage  nature.  These  remarks,  however, 
are  mostly  applicable  to  what  may  be  termed  truly  English  places  ; 
for  in  the  more  romantic  parts  of  our  islands,  there  are  spots,  where  a 
very  gentle  but  judicious  exercise  of  the  hatchet,  for  perhaps  not  more 
than  a  quarter  of  an  hour,  may  possibly  open  up  that,  which  even  the 
most  fastidious  artist  would  call  a  perfect  picture — and  where,  by  the 
exercise  of  the  same  means  for  one  whole  day,  a  whole  series  of  pic- 
tures, each  entirely  different  from  the  rest,  might  be  produced,  and  this 

U 


178 


Sill  UVEDALE  PRICE 


without  doing  the  smallest  injury  to  the  great  general  effect  of  the 
place.  But  this  can  only  be  the  case  where  the  surrounding  features 
arc  universally  bold  ;  and  the  exception  by  no  means  impairs  the 
Qgth  of  the  general  remark. — E.] 
With  respect  to  Kent,  and  his  particular  mode  of  improving,  I  can 
say  but  little  from  my  own  knowledge,  having  never  seen  any  works 
of  his  that  I  could  be  sure  had  undergone  no  alteration  from  any  of  his 
successors  ;  but  Mr.  Walpole,  by  a  few  characteristic  anecdotes,  has 
made  us  perfectly  acquainted  with  the  turn  of  his  mind,  and  the  extent 
of  his  genius. 

A  painter,  who,  from  being  used  to  plant  young  beeches,  introduced 
them  almost  exclusively  into  his  landscapes,  and  who  even  in  his  designs 
for  Spencer,  whose  scenes  were  so  often  laid, 

u  infra  Tombrose  piante 
D'antica  selva," 

still  kept  to  his  little  beeches,  must  have  had  a  more  paltry  mind  than 
falls  to  the  common  lot.  It  must  also  have  been  as  perverse  as  it  was 
paltry  ;  for  as  he  painted  trees  without  form,  so  he  planted  them  with- 
out life,  and  seems  to  have  imagined  that  circumstance  alone  would 
compensate  for  want  of  bulk,  of  age,  and  of  grandeur  of  character. 

I  may  here  observe,  that  it  is  almost  impossible  to  remove  a  large  old 
tree,  with  all  its  branches,  spurs,  and  appendages  ;  and  without  such 
qualities  as  greatness  of  size,  joined  to  an  air  of  grandeur  and  of  high 
antiquity,  a  dead  tree  should  seldom  if  ever  be  left,  especially  in  a  con- 
spicuous place.  To  entitle  it  to  such  a  station,  it  should  be  "  majestic 
even  in  ruin  :"  a  dead  tree  which  could  be  moved,  would,  from  that 
very  circumstance,  be  unfit  for  moving.  Those  of  Kent's,  were  pro- 
bably placed  where  they  would  attract  the  eye ;  for  it  is  rare  that  any 
improver  wishes  to  conceal  his  efforts. 

If  I  have  spoken  thus  strongly  of  a  man,  who  has  been  celebrated  in 
prose  and  in  verse  as  the  founder  of  an  art  almost  peculiar  to  this  country, 
and  from  which  it  is  supposed  to  derive  no  slight  degree  of  glory,  I  have 
done  it  to  prevent  (as  far  as  it  lies  in  me)  the  bad  effect  which  too 
great  a  veneration  for  first  reformers  is  sure  to  produce — that  of  inter  - 
esting national  vanity  in  the  continuance  and  protection  of  their  errors. 
The  task  which  I  have  taken  upon  myself,  has  been  in  all  ages  in- 
vidious and  unpopular.  With  regard  to  Kent,  however,  I  thought  it 
particularly  incumbent  upon  me  to  show  that  he  was  not  one  of  those 
great  original  geniuses,  who,  like  Michael  Angelo,  seem  born  to  give 
the  world  more  enlarged  and  exalted  ideas  of  art ;  but,  on  the  contrary, 
that  in  the  art  he  did  profess,  and  from  which  he  might  be  supposed  to 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


179 


have  derived  superior  lights  with  respect  to  that  of  gardening,  his  ideas 
were  uncommonly  mean,  contracted,  and  perverse.  Were  I  not  to  show 
this  plainly  and  strongly,  and  without  any  affected  candour  or  reserve, 
it  might  be  said  to  me  with  great  reason — you  assert  that  a  knowledge 
of  the  principles  of  painting  is  the  first  qualification  for  an  improver  : 
the  founder  of  English  gardening  was  a  professed  artist,  and  yet  you 
object  to  him  ! 

Kent,  it  is  true,  was  by  profession  a  painter,  as  well  as  an  improver ; 
but  we  may  learn  from  his  example,  how  little  a  certain  degree  of 
mechanical  practice  will  qualify  its  possessor  to  direct  the  taste  of  a 
nation  in  either  of  those  arts. 

The  most  enlightened  judge,  both  of  his  own  art  and  of  all  that  re- 
lates to  it,  is  a  painter  of  a  liberal  and  comprehensive  mind,  who  has 
added  extensive  observation  and  reflection  to  practical  execution  ;  and 
if,  in  addition  to  those  natural  and  acquired  talents,  he  likewise  possess 
the  power  of  expressing  his  ideas  clearly  and  forcibly  in  words,  the 
most  capable  of  enlightening  others.  To  such  a  rare  combination  we  owe 
Sir  J oshua  Reynolds'  Discourses — the  most  original  and  impressive  work 
that  ever  was  published  on  his,  or  possibly  on  any  art.  On  the  other 
hand,  nothing  so  contracts  the  mind  as  a  little  practical  dexterity, 
unassisted  and  uncorrected  by  general  knowledge  and  observation,  and 
by  a  study  of  the  great  masters.  An  artist,  whose  mind  has  been  so 
contracted,  refers  every  thing  to  the  narrow  circle  of  his  own  ideas  and 
execution,  and  wishes  to  confine  within  that  circle  all  the  rest  of  man- 
kind. 

I  remember  a  gentleman  who  played  very  prettily  on  the  flute, 
abusing  all  Handel's  music  ;  and  to  give  me  every  advantage,  like  a 
generous  adversary,  he  defied  me  to  name  one  good  chorus  of  his  writing. 
It  may  well  be  supposed  that  I  did  not  accept  the  challenge — cetoit 
bien  I'embarras  des  richesses:  and  indeed  he  was  right  in  his  own  way 
of  considering  them,  for  there  is  not  one  that  would  do  well  for  his 
instrument. 

Before  I  enter  into  any  particulars,  I  will  make  a  few  observations 
on  what  I  look  upon  as  the  great  general  defect  of  the  present  system  ; 
not  as  opposed  to  the  old  style,  which  I  believe,  however,  to  have  been 
infinitely  more  free  from  it,  but  considered  by  itself  singly,  and  without 
comparison.  That  defect,  the  greatest  of  all,  and  the  most  opposite  to 
the  principles  of  painting,  is  want  of  connection — a  passion  for  making 
every  thing  distinct  and  separate.  All  the  particular  defects  which  I 
shall  have  occasion  to  notice,  in  some  degree  arise  from  and  tend 
towards  this  original  sin. 


L80 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


Whoever  has  examined  with  attention  the  landscapes  of  emineni 
painters,  must  have  observed  how  much  art  and  study  they  have  em- 
ployed, in  contriving  that  all  the  objects  should  have  a  mutual  relation — 
that  nothing  should  be  detached  in  such  a  manner  as  to  appear  totally 
insulated  and  unconnected,  but  that  there  should  be  a  sort  of  continuity 
throughout  the  whole.  He  must  have  remarked  how  much  is  effected, 
where  the  style  of  scenery  admits  of  it,  by  their  judicious  use  of  every 
kind  of  vegetation — from  the  loftiest  trees,  through  all  their  different 
growths,  down  to  the  lowest  plants — so  that  nothing  should  be  crowded, 
nothing  bare;  no  heavy  uniform  masses,  no  meagre  and  frittered  patches. 
As  materials  for  landscape,  they  noticed,  and  often  sketched,  wherever 
they  met  with  them,  the  happiest  groups,  whether  of  trees  stan ding- 
alone,  or  mixed  with  thickets  and  underwood  ;  observing  the  manner 
in  which  they  accorded  with  and  displayed  the  character  of  the  ground, 
and  produced  intricacy,  variety,  and  connection.  All  that  has  just 
been  mentioned,  is  as  much  an  object  of  study  to  the  improver  as  to  the 
painter.  The  former,  indeed,  though  in  some  parts  he  may  preserve  the 
appearance  of  wildness  and  of  neglect,  in  others  must  soften  it,  and  in 
others  again  exchange  it  for  the  highest  degree  of  neatness  ;  but  there 
is  no  part  where  a  connection  between  the  different  objects  is  not  re- 
quired, or  where  a  just  degree  of  intricacy  and  enrichment  would  inter- 
fere with  neatness.  Every  professor,  from  Kent  nearly  down  to  the 
present  time,  has  proceeded  on  directly  opposite  principles.  The  first 
impression  received  from  a  place  where  one  of  them  has  been  employed, 
is  that  of  general  bareness,  and  particular  heaviness  and  distinctness  ; 
indeed,  their  dislike  or  neglect  of  enrichment,  variety,  intricacy,  and 
above  all  of  connection,  is  apparent  throughout.  Water,  for  instance, 
particularly  requires  enrichment — they  make  it  totally  naked  ;  the 
boundaries  in  the  same  degree  require  variety  and  intricacy — they 
make  them  almost  regularly  circular ;  and,  lastly,  as  it  calls  for  all  the 
improvers  art  to  give  connection  to  the  trees  in  the  open  parts,  they 
make  them  completely  insulated.  One  of  their  first  operations  is  to  clear 
away  the  humbler  trees — those  bonds  of  connection  which  the  painter 
admires,  and  which  the  judicious  improver  always  touches  with  a  cautious 
hand ;  for  however  minute  and  trifling  the  small  connecting  ties  and  bonds 
of  scenery  may  appear,  they  are  those  by  which  the  more  considerable 
objects  in  all  their  different  arrangements  are  combined,  and  on  which 
their  balance,  their  contrast,  and  diversity,  as  well  as  union  depends. 
It  would  be  hardly  less  absurd  to  throw  out  all  the  connecting  particles 
in  language,  as  unworthy  of  being  mixed  with  the  higher  parts  of 
speech.    Our  pages  would  then  be  a  good  deal  like  our  places,  when  all 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


181 


the  conjunctions,  prepositions,  &c,  were  cleared  away,  and  the  nouns 
and  verbs  clumped  by  themselves.  Water,  when  accompanied  by 
trees  and  bushes  variously  arranged,  is  often  so  imperceptibly  united 
with  land,  that  in  many  places  the  eye  cannot  discover  the  perfect  spot 
and  time  of  their  union  ;  yet  is  no  less  delighted  with  that  mystery, 
than  with  the  thousand  reflections  and  intricacies  which  attend  it. 
What  is  the  effect,  when  those  ties  are  not  suffered  to  exist  ?  You 
everywhere  distinguisli  the  exact  line  of  separation ;  the  water  is 
bounded  by  a  distinct  and  uniform  edge  of  grass ;  the  grass  by  a  similar 
edge  of  wood ;  the  trees,  and  often  the  house,  are  distinctly  placed 
upon  the  grass — all  separated  from  whatever  might  group  with  them, 
or  take  off  from  their  solitary  insulated  appearance.  In  every  thing  you 
trace  the  hand  of  a  mechanic,  not  the  mind  of  a  liberal  artist. 

I  will  now  proceed  to  the  particulars,  and  will  beg  the  reader  to  keep 
in  his  mind  the  ruling  principle  I  have  just  described,  and  of  which  I 
shall  display  the  different  proofs  and  examples. 

No  professor  of  high  reputation  seems  for  some  time  to  have  appeared 
after  Kent,  £save  Wright,  who  was  more  of  a  draftsman  than  an  actual 
worker  out  of  plans — E.]  till  at  length,  that  the  system  might  be  carried 
to  its  ne  plus  ultra,  (no  very  distant  point)  arose  the  famous  Mr.  Brown, 
who  has  so  fixed  and  determined  the  forms  and  lines  of  clumps,  belts, 
and  serpentine  canals,  and  has  been  so  steadily  imitated  by  his  followers, 
that  had  the  improvers  been  incorporated,  their  common  seal,  with  a 
clump,  a  belt,  and  a  piece  of  made  water,  would  have  fully  expressed 
the  whole  of  their  science,  and  have  served  them  for  a  model  as  well  as 
a  seal. 

What  Ariosto  says  of  a  grove  of  cypresses,  has  always  struck  me  in 
looking  at  made  places, 

"  Che  parean  d'una  stampa  tutte  impresse." 

They  seem  "  cast  in  one  mould,  made  in  one  frame  so  much  so, 
that  I  have  seen  places  on  which  large  sums  had  been  lavished,  so  com- 
pletely out  of  harmony  with  the  landscape  around  them,  that  they  gave 
me  the  idea  of  having  been  made  by  contract  in  London,  and  then  sent 
down  in  pieces,  and  put  together  on  the  spot. 

It  is  very  unfortunate  that  this  great  legislator  of  our  national  taste, 
whose  laws  still  remain  in  force,  should  not  have  received  from  nature, 
or  have  acquired  by  education,  more  enlarged  ideas.  Claude  Lorraine 
was  bred  a  pastry-cook,  but  in  every  thing  that  regards  his  art  as  a 
painter,  he  had  an  elevated  and  comprehensive  mind  ;  nor  in  any  part 
of  his  works  can  wo  trace  the  meanness  of  his  original  occupation. 


182 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


Mr.  Brown  was  bred  a  gardener,  and  having  nothing  of  the  mind  or 
the  eye  of  a  painter,  he  formed  his  style  (or  rather  his  plan)  upon  the 
model  of  a  parterre  ;  and  transferred  its  minute  beauties,  its  little 
clumps,  knots,  and  patches  of  flowers,  the  oval  belt  that  surrounds  it, 
and  all  its  twists  and  crincum  crancums,  to  the  great  scale  of  nature. 

This  ingenious  device  of  magnifying  a  parterre,  calls  to  my  mind  a 
story  I  heard  many  years  ago.  A  country  parson,  in  the  county  where 
I  live,  speaking  of  a  gentleman  of  low  stature,  but  of  extremely  pom- 
pous manners,  who  had  just  left  the  company,  exclaimed,  in  the  simplicity 
and  admiration  of  his  heart,  "  quite  grandeur  in  miniature,  I  protest !" 
This  compliment  reversed,  would  perfectly  suit  the  shreds  and  patches 
that  are  so  often  stuck  about  by  Mr.  Brown  and  his  followers,  amidst 
the  noble  scenes  they  disfigure  ;  where  they  are  as  contemptible,  and  as 
much  out  of  character,  as  Claude's  first  edifices  in  pastry  would  appear 
in  the  dignified  landscapes  he  has  painted. 

We  have,  indeed,  made  but  a  poor  progress,  by  changing  the  formal, 
but  simple  and  majestic  avenue,  for  the  thin  circular  verge  called  a  belt ; 
and  the  unpretending  ugliness  of  the  straight,  for  the  affected  sameness  of 
the  serpentine  canal ;  but  the  great  distinguishing  feature  of  modern 
improvement  is  the  clump — a  name,  which  if  the  first  letter  were  taken 
away,  would  most  accurately  describe  its  form  and  effect.  Were  it 
made  the  object  of  study  how  to  invent  something,  which,  under  the 
name  of  ornament,  should  disfigure  whole  districts,  nothing  could  be  con- 
trived to  answer  that  purpose  like  a  clump.  Natural  groups,  being 
formed  by  trees  of  different  ages  and  sizes,  and  at  different  distances 
from  each  other,  often  too  by  a  mixture  of  those  of  the  largest  size,  with 
thorns,  hollies,  and  others  of  inferior  growth,  are  full  of  variety  in  their 
outlines  ;  and  from  the  same  causes,  no  two  groups  are  exactly  alike. 
But  clumps,  from  the  trees  being  generally  of  the  same  age  and  growth, 
from  their  being  planted  nearly  at  the  same  distance  in  a  circular  form, 
and  from  each  tree  being  equally  pressed  by  his  neighbour,  are  as  like 
each  other  as  so  many  puddings  turned  out  of  one  common  mould. 
Natural  groups  are  full  of  openings  and  hollows ;  of  trees  advancing 
before,  or  retiring  behind  each  other — all  productive  of  intricacy,  of 
variety,  of  deep  shadows,  and  brilliant  lights.  In  walking  about  them, 
the  form  changes  at  each  step  ;  new  combinations,  new  lights  and 
shades,  new  inlets  present  themselves  in  succession.  But  clumps,  like 
compact  bodies  of  soldiers,  resist  attacks  from  all  quarters.  Examine 
them  in  every  point  of  view — walk  round  and  round  them — no  opening, 
no  vacancy,  no  stragglers !  but,  in  the  true  military  character,  Us  font 
face  partout.    I  remember  hearing,  that  when  Mr.  Brown  was  High- 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


183 


Sheriff,  some  facetious  person,  observing  his  attendants  straggling,  called 
out  to  him,  "  Clump  your  javelin  men."  What  was  intended  merely  as 
a  piece  of  ridicule,  might  have  served  as  a  very  instructive  lesson  to  the 
object  of  it,  and  have  taught  Mr.  Brown  that  such  figures  should  be 
confined  to  bodies  of  men  drilled  for  the  purposes  of  formal  parade,  and 
not  extended  to  the  loose  and  airy  shapes  of  vegetation. 

The  next  leading  feature  to  the  clump  in  this  circular  system,  and 
one  which,  in  romantic  situations,  rivals  it  in  the  power  of  creating  de- 
formity, is  the  belt.  Its  sphere,  however,  is  more  contracted.  Clumps, 
placed  like  beacons  on  the  summits  of  hills,  alarm  the  picturesque  tra- 
veller many  miles  off,  and  warn  him  of  his  approach  to  the  enemy  ; — the 
belt  lies  more  in  ambuscade  ;  and  the  wretch  who  falls  into  it,  and  is 
obliged  to  walk  the  whole  round  in  company  with  the  improver,  will 
allow  that  a  snake  with  its  tail  in  its  mouth,  is  comparatively  but  a 
faint  emblem  of  eternity.  It  has,  indeed,  all  the  sameness  and  for- 
mality of  the  avenue,  to  which  it  has  succeeded,  without  any  of  its 
simple  grandeur  ;  for  though  in  an  avenue  you  see  the  same  objects  from 
beginning  to  end,  and  in  the  belt  a  new  set  every  twenty  yards,  yet 
each  successive  part  of  this  insipid  circle  is  so  like  the  preceding,  that 
though  really  different,  the  difference  is  scarcely  felt ;  and  there  is 
nothing  that  so  dulls,  and  at  the  same  time  so  irritates  the  mind,  as  per- 
petual change  without  variety. 

The  avenue  has  a  most  striking  effect,  from  the  very  circumstance  of 
its  being  straight ;  no  other  figure  can  give  that  image  of  a  grand  Gothic 
aisle,  with  its  natural  columns  and  vaulted  roof,  the  general  mass  of 
which  fills  the  eye,  while  the  particular  parts  insensibly  steal  from  it  in 
a  long  gradation  of  perspective.  By  long  gradation,  I  do  not  mean  a 
great  length  of  avenue.  I  perfectly  agree  with  Mr.  Burke,  "  that 
colonnades  and  avenues  of  trees,  of  a  moderate  length,  are  without  com- 
parison far  grander  than  when  they  are  suffered  to  run  to  immense 
distances."  The  broad  solemn  shade  adds  a  twilight  calm  to  the  whole, 
and  makes  it  above  all  other  places  the  most  suited  to  meditation.  To 
that  also  its  straightness  contributes  ;  for  when  the  mind  is  disposed  to 
turn  inwardly  on  itself,  any  serpentine  line  would  distract  the  atten- 
tion. 

All  the  characteristic  beauties  of  the  avenue — its  solemn  stillness — 
the  religious  awe  it  inspires — are  greatly  heightened  by  moonlight. 
This  I  once  very  strongly  experienced  in  approaching  a  venerable 
castle-like  mansion,  built  in  the  beginning  of  the  15th  century  ; — a  few 
gleams  had  pierced  the  deep  gloom  of  the  avenue — a  large  massive 
tower  at  the  end  of  it,  seen  through  a  long  perspective,  and  half  lighted 


184 


SIB  CJYEDALE  PRICK 


by  the  uncertain  beams  of  the  moon,  had  a  grand  mysterious  effect. 
Suddenly  a  light  appeared  in  this  tower — then  as  suddenly  its  twinkling 
vanished — and  only  the  quiet  silvery  rays  of  the  moon  prevailed  ; 
again,  more  lights  quickly  shifted  to  different  parts  of  the  building, 
and  the  whole  scene  most  forcibly  brought  to  my  fancy  the  times  of 
fairies  and  chivalry.  I  was  much  hurt  to  learn  from  the  master  of  the 
place,  that  I  might  take  my  leave  of  the  avenue  and  its  romantic  effects, 
for  that  a  death-warrant  was  signed. 

[^Melancholy,  indeed,  is  the  thought,  that  this  is  no  solitary  instance 
of  this  barbarous  species  of  destruction  in  British  places.  I  could  name 
many  which  have  come  under  my  own  observation.  Some  of  the  most 
interesting  associations  with  our  early  history  have  thus  been  recklessly 
sacrificed  beneath  the  chariot-wheels  of  the  Juggernaut  of  modern  bar  - 
barism.  And  what  has  been  the  general  product  of  this  most  ruthless 
massacre  ?  Instead  of  the  grandeur  which  has  just  been  so  feelingly 
described,  we  have  an  abortive  attempt  to  force  the  few  unfortunate 
stragglers  who  have  been  spared  from  the  slaughter,  into  formal 
groups,  which  have  no  other  effect  than  to  mark  out  the  line  which  the 
whole  army  originally  occupied  when  standing,  so  that  they  may  serve 
to  inform  the  indignant  spectator  of  the  full  extent  of  the  atrocity  that 
has  been  committed.  But  even  this  is  well,  compared  to  the  wretchedly 
puerile  attempts  which  we  often  see  made,  to  manufacture  the  straggling 
individuals  that  have  been  left  into  clumps,  by  the  planting  of  younger 
trees  around  them.  But  when  speaking  thus  of  avenues,  I  of  course 
mean  that  these  my  observations  shall  apply  to  really  ancient  avenues, 
composed  of  grand  ancestral  timber;  for  I  can  quite  easily  under- 
stand the  necessity  which  may  sometimes  arise  for  breaking  up  those 
of  younger  date,  and  more  insignificant  growth,  and  which  are  con- 
sequently neither  possessed  of  grandeur  of  aspect,  nor  of  ancient  asso- 
ciation— and  with  such  I  can  conceive  the  propriety  of  making  an 
attempt  to  employ  some  of  the  trees  which  may  be  judiciously  left 
standing,  as  the  nucleus  of  groups  of  younger  creation.  But  even  this 
I  hold  to  be  a  very  difficult  undertaking,  and  one  in  which  it  will 
generally  require  years  before  the  original  state  of  things  can  be  tho- 
roughly obliterated, — E.[] 

The  destruction  of  so  many  of  these  venerable  approaches,  is  a  fatal 
consequence  of  the  present  excessive  horror  of  straight  lines.  Sometimes, 
indeed,  avenues  do  cut  through  the  middle  of  very  beautiful  and  varied 
ground,  with  which  the  stiffness  of  their  form  but  ill  accords,  and  where 
it  were  greatly  to  be  wished  they  had  never  been  planted  ;  but  being 
there,  it  may  often  be  doubtful  whether  they  ought  to  be  destroyed. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


185 


As  to  saving  a  few  of  the  trees,  I  own  I  never  saw  it  done  with  a 
good  effect ; — they  always  pointed  out  the  old  line,  and  the  spot  was 
haunted  by  the  ghost  of  the  departed  avenue.  They  are,  however, 
not  unfrequently  planted,  where  a  boundary  of  wood  approaching  to  a 
straight  line  was  required  ;  and  in  such  situations  they  furnish  a  walk  of 
more  perfect  and  continued  shade,  than  any  other  disposition  of  trees, 
and,  what  is  of  no  small  consequence,  they  do  not  interfere  with  the  rest 
of  the  place.  At  a  gentleman's  place  in  Cheshire,  there  is  an  avenue 
of  oaks  situated  much  in  the  manner  I  have  described.  Mr.  Brown 
absolutely  condemned  it  ;  but  it  now  stands  a  noble  monument  of  the 
triumph  of  the  natural  feelings  of  the  owner  over  the  narrow  and 
systematic  ideas  of  a  professed  improver.  There  is  an  essential  differ- 
ence between  the  avenue  and  the  belt.  When  from  the  avenue  you 
turn  either  to  the  right  or  to  the  left,  the  whoie  country,  with  all  its 
intricacies  and  varieties,  is  open  before  you ;  but  from  the  belt  there  is 
no  escaping — it  hems  you  in  on  all  sides  ;  and  if  you  please  yourself 
with  having  discovered  some  wrild  sequestered  part  (if  such  there  ever  be 
where  a  belt-maker  has  been  admitted,)  or  some  new  pathway,  and  are 
in  the  pleasing  uncertainty  whereabouts  you  are,  and  whither  it  will 
lead  you,  the  belt  soon  appears,  and  the  charm  of  expectation  is  over. 
If  you  turn  to  either  side,  it  keeps  winding  round  you ;  if  you  break 
through  it,  it  catches  you  at  your  return  ;  and  the  idea  of  this  distinct, 
unavoidable  line  of  separation,  damps  all  search  after  novelty.  Far 
different  from  those  magic  circles  of  fairies  and  enchanters,  that  gave 
birth  to  splendid  illusions — to  the  palaces  and  gardens  of  Alcina  and 
Armida — -this,  like  the  ring  of  Angelica,  instantly  dissipates  every 
illusion,  every  enchantment. 

If  ever  a  belt  be  allowable,  it  is  where  the  house  is  situated  in  a 
dead  flat,  and  in  a  naked  ugly  country.  There,  at  least,  it  cannot  in- 
jure any  variety  of  ground,  or  exclude  any  distant  prospect ;  it  will  also 
be  the  real  boundary  to  the  eye,  however  uniform,  and  any  exclusion 
in  such  cases  is  a  benefit ; — but  where  there  is  any  play  of  ground,  and 
a  descent  from  the  house,  it  more  completely  disfigures  the  place  than 
any  other  improvement.  What  most  delights  us  in  the  intricacy  of 
varied  ground,  of  swelling  knolls,  and  of  valleys  between  them,  retiring 
from  the  sight  in  different  directions  amidst  trees  or  thickets,  is  that — 
according  to  Hogarth's  expression — it  leads  the  eye  a  kind  of  wanton 
chase  ;  this  is  what  he  calls  the  beauty  of  intricacy,  and  is  that  which 
distinguishes  what  is  produced  by  soft  winding  shapes,  from  the  more 
sudden  and  quickly -varying  kind,  which  arises  from  abrupt  and  rugged 
forms.    All  this  wanton  chase,  as  well  as  the  effects  of  more  wild  and 


186 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


picturesque  intricacy,  is  immediately  checked  by  any  circular  plan- 
tation, which  never  appears  to  retire  from  the  eye  and  lose  itself  in 
the  distance,  never  admits  of  partial  concealments.  Whatever  varieties 
of  hills  and  dales  there  may  be,  such  a  plantation  must  stiffly  cut  across 
them,  so  that  the  undulations — and  what  in  seamen's  language  may 
be  called  the  trending  of  the  ground — cannot  in  that  case  be  humoured ; 
nor  can  its  playful  character  be  marked  by  that  style  of  planting,  which 
at  once  points  out,  and  adds  to  its  beautiful  intricacy. 

This  may  serve  to  show  how  impossible  it  is  to  plan  any  forms  of 
plantations  that  will  suit  all  places,  however  it  may  suit  the  professor's 
convenience  to  establish  such  a  doctrine.  There  is,  in  this  respect,  no 
small  degree  of  resemblance  between  the  art  of  gardening  and  that  of 
medicine — in  which,  after  the  general  principles  have  been  acquired, 
the  judgment  lies  in  the  application ;  and  every  case — as  an  eminent 
physician  observed  to  me — must  be  considered  as  a  special  case. 

This  holds  precisely  in  improving ;  and  in  both  arts  the  quacks  are 
alike — they  have  no  principles,  but  only  a  few  nostrums,  which  they 
apply  indiscriminately  to  all  situations,  and  all  constitutions.  Clumps 
and  Belts,  pills  and  drops,  are  distributed  with  equal  skill — the  one 
plants  the  right,  and  clears  the  left,  as  the  other  bleeds  the  east,  and 
purges  the  westward.  The  best  improver  or  physician  is  he  who 
leaves  most  to  nature — who  watches  and  takes  advantage  of  those  in- 
dications which  she  points  out  when  left  to  exert  her  own  powers ;  but 
which,  when  once  destroyed  or  suppressed  by  an  empiric  of  either 
kind,  present  themselves  no  more. 

[[These  remarks  are  most  important  and  sensible.  As  the  constitu- 
tion of  the  patient  must  be  well  studied  before  any  curative  medicines 
are  attempted  to  be  exhibited — or  as  the  temper  must  be  thoroughly 
known  before  any  system  can  be  rationally  adopted  for  moral  ameliora- 
tion— so  ought  the  general  character  of  a  place  to  be  duly  considered 
before  any  plans  for  its  improvement  are  determined  on.  Perhaps  the 
first  thing  that  a  judicious  landscape  gardener  should  do  is  to  endeavour 
to  divest  himself  of  every  thing  that  may  have  the  semblance  of  a  nos- 
trum— of  every  thing  that  may  savour  of  an  universally  applied  sys- 
tem. Having  rid  himself  of  this,  he  will  be  enabled  to  take  his  im- 
pressions from  the  nature  of  the  place  he  may  be  called  upon  to  visit  ; 
and  from  these  impressions,  calmly  and  impartially  formed,  he  will  be 
enabled  to  originate  designs,  which,  if  not  likely  to  turn  out  very 
striking  improvements,  will  probably  at  least  have  the  merit  of  creat- 
ing nothing  which  may  be  afterwards  considered  as  a  decided  deformity  ; 
— and  thus,  if  he  do  not  shine  as  a  great  manufacturer  of  landscape,  he 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


187 


will  at  least  be  saved  from  that  damning  fame  to  which  some  of  those 
who  have  gone  before  him  have  been  irrecoverably  doomed. — E.] 

I  have  perhaps  expressed  myself  more  strongly  and  more  at  length 
than  I  otherwise  should  have  done,  on  the  subject  of  so  paltry  an  in- 
vention as  that  of  the  belt,  from  the  extreme  disgust  I  felt  at  seeing  its 
effect  in  a  place,  of  which  the  general  features  are  among  the  noblest 
in  the  kingdom.  In  front,  the  sea  appears  in  view,  embayed  amidst 
islands  and  promontories,  and  backed  by  mountains ;  between  the 
house  and  the  shore  there  is  a  quick,  though  not  an  abrupt  descent  of 
ground,  on  which  a  judicious  improver  might  have  planted  different 
masses  of  wood,  groups,  and  single  trees,  more  or  less  dispersed  or  con- 
nected together,  with  lawns  and  glades  between  them,  gently  leading 
the  eye  among  their  intricacies  to  the  shore.  This  would  have  formed 
a  rich  and  varied  foreground  to  the  magnificent  distance ;  and  in  the 
approach  to  the  sea-side,  whichever  way  you  took,  would  have  broken 
that  distance,  and  have  formed  in  conjunction  with  it  a  number  of  new 
and  beautiful  compositions.  One  of  Mr.  Brown's  successors  has  thought 
differently ;  and  this  uncommon  display  of  scenery  is  disgraced  by  a 
belt. 

I  do  not  remember  the  place  in  its  unimproved  state ;  but  I  was  told 
that  there  was  a  great  quantity  of  wood  between  the  house  and  the 
sea,  and  that  the  vessels  appeared,  as  at  that  wonderful  place,  Mount 
Edgecumbe,  sailing  over  the  tops,  and  gliding  among  the  stems  of  the 
trees.    If  so,  this  professor 

M  Has  left  sad  marks  of  his  destructive  sway." 

The  method  of  thinning  trees  which  has  been  adopted  by  layers  out 
of  ground,  perfectly  corresponds  with  their  method  of  planting ;  for  in 
both  cases  they  totally  neglect  what  in  the  general  sense  of  the  word 
may  be  called  picturesque  effects.  Trees  of  remarkable  size,  indeed, 
usually  escape ;  but  it  is  not  sufficient  to  attend  to  the  giant  sons  of  the 
forest.  Often  the  loss  of  a  few  trees,  nay,  of  a  single  tree  of  middling 
size,  is  of  infinite  consequence  to  the  general  effect  of  the  place,  by 
making  an  irreparable  breach  in  the  outline  of  a  principal  wood — 
often  some  of  the  most  beautiful  groups  owe  the  playful  variety  of 
their  form,  and  their  happy  connection  with  other  groups,  to  some 
apparently  insignificant,  and  to  many  eyes,  even  ugly  trees.  To  at- 
tend to  all  these  niceties  of  outline,  connection,  and  grouping,  would 
require  much  time  as  well  as  skill,  and  therefore  a  more  easy  and  com- 
pendious method  has  been  adopted :  the  different  groups  are  to  be 
cleared  round,  till  they  become  as  clump -like  as  their  untrained  natures 


188 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


will  allow,  and  even  many  of  those  outside  trees  which  belong  to  the 
groups  themselves,  and  to  which  they  owe  not  only  their  beauty,  but 
their  security  against  wind  and  frost,  are  cut  down  without  pity,  if 
they  will  not  range  according  to  a  prescribed  model — till,  mangled, 
starved,  and  cut  off  from  all  connection,  these  unhappy  newly-drilled 
corps 

"  Stand  bare  and  naked,  trembling  at  themselves." 
Even  the  old  avenue,  whose  branches  had  intertwined  with  each 
other  for  ages,  must  undergo  this  fashionable  metamorphosis.  The 
object  of  the  improver  is  to  break  its  regularity ;  but,  so  far  from  pro- 
ducing that  effect  by  dividing  it  into  clumps,  he  could  scarcely  in- 
vent a  method  by  which  its  regularity  would  be  made  so  manifest  in 
every  direction.  When  entire,  its  straightness  can  only  be  seen  when 
you  look  up  or  down  it ;  viewed  sideways,  it  has  the  appearance  of  a 
thick  mass  of  wood  ;  if  you  plant  other  trees  before  it,  to  them  it  gives 
consequence,  and  they  give  it  lightness  and  variety ;  but  when  it  is 
divided,  and  you  can  see  through  it  and  compare  the  separate  clumps 
with  the  objects  before  and  behind  them,  the  straight  line  is  apparent 
from  whatever  point  you  view  it.  In  its  close  array,  the  avenue  is 
like  the  Grecian  phalanx — each  tree,  like  each  soldier,  is  firmly  wedged 
in  between  its  companions ;  its  branches,  like  their  spears,  present  a 
front  impenetrable  to  all  attacks,  but  the  moment  this  compact  order 
is  broken  their  sides  become  naked  and  exposed.  Mr.  Brown,  like 
another  Paulus  iEmilius,  has  broken  the  firm  embodied  ranks  of  many 
a  noble  phalanx  of  trees ;  and  in  this,  perhaps,  more  than  in  any  other 
instance,  he  has  shown  how  far  the  perversion  of  taste  may  be  carried 
— for  at  the  very  time  when  he  deprived  the  avenue  of  its  shade  and 
its  solemn  grandeur,  he  increased  its  formality. 

QThink  of  the  calm  enjoyment  of  a  solitary  saunter  beneath  the 
shade  of  one  of  those  magnificent  old  avenues,  just  after  the  sun  has 
sunk  in  a  sultry  summer's  evening,  and  ere  yet  the  black  colony  of 
rooks  and  daws  who  are  heard  over  head,  cawing,  as  it  were,  in  another 
region,  have  quite  settled  down  to  their  night's  repose — only  think  of 
this,  and  then  conceive  the  atrocity  of  that  taste  which  could  set  the 
hatchet-men  to  work  against  the  giant  stems  of  those  trees  which  ages 
have  been  employed  in  bringiug  to  perfection,  during  which  they  have 
seen  so  many  generations  of  human  beings  spring  up  like  the  grass  of 
the  field,  like  it  to  perish  under  their  shade. — E.] 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


189 


CHAPTER  XI 


It  is  in  the  arrangement  and  management  of  trees  that  the  great  art  of 
improvement  consists  ;  earth  is  too  cumbrous  and  lumpish  for  man  to 
contend  much  with,  and,  when  worked  upon,  its  effects  are  flat  and 
dead,  like  its  nature.  But  trees,  detaching  themselves  at  once  from 
the  surface,  and  rising  boldly  into  the  air,  have  a  more  lively  and  im- 
mediate effect  on  the  eye ;  they  alone  form  a  canopy  over  us,  and  a 
varied  frame  to  all  other  objects,  which  they  admit,  exclude,  and  group 
with,  almost  at  the  will  of  the  improver.  In  beauty  they  not  only  far 
excel  every  thing  of  inanimate  nature,  but  their  beauty  is  complete 
and  perfect  in  itself,  while  that  of  almost  every  other  object  requires 
their  assistance.  Without  them,  the  most  varied  inequality  of  ground 
is  uninteresting.  Rocks,  though  their  variety  is  of  a  more  striking 
kind,  and  often  united  with  grandeur,  still  want  their  accompaniment ; 
and  although  in  the  higher  parts  of  mountains  trees  are  neither  ex- 
pected nor  required,  yet  if  there  be  none  in  any  part  of  the  view,  a 
scene  of  mere  barrenness  and  desolation,  however  grand,  soon  fatigues 
the  eye.  Water,  in  all  its  characters  of  brooks,  rivers,  lakes,  and 
water-falls,  appears  cold  and  naked  without  them  ;  the  sea  alone  forms 
an  exception,  its  sublimity  absorbing  all  idea  of  lesser  ornaments — for 
no  one  can  view  the  foam,  the  gulfs,  the  impetuous  motion  of  that 


190 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


world  of  waters,  without  a  deep  impression  of  its  destructive  and  ir- 
resistible power.  But  sublimity  is  not  its  only  character,  for  after  that 
first  awful  sensation  is  weakened  by  use,  the  infinite  variety  in  the  forms 
of  the  waves,  in  their  light  and  shadow,  in  the  dashing  of  their  spray, 
and,  above  all,  the  perpetual  change  of  motion,  continue  to  amuse  the 
eye  in  detail,  as  much  as  the  grandeur  of  the  whole  possessed  the  mind. 
It  is  in  this  that  it  differs,  not  only  from  motionless  objects,  but  even 
from  rivers  and  cataracts,  however  diversified  in  their  parts ;  in  them 
the  spectator  sees  no  change  from  what  he  saw  at  first — the  same  breaks 
in  the  current,  the  same  falls  continue — but  the  intricacies  and  varieties 
of  waves  breaking  against  rocks,  are  as  endless  as  their  motion. 

£1  have  enjoyed  indescribable  pleasure  from  sitting,  as  I  have  done 
for  hours,  to  watch  the  play  of  the  waves  beating  in  upon  a  rocky 
coast,  especially  where  numberless  broken  ledges  of  lower  rocks  encum- 
bered the  beach  at  the  base  of  the  loftier  cliffs.  The  variety  of  their 
forms  and  motion  is  indeed  endless.  Now  the  surge  comes  on  in  one 
wide  heave,  swelling  and  mounting  as  it  advances,  until  its  crest  rises 
thin  and  sharp,  and  it  breaks  over  rapidly  along  its  whole  line,  with  a 
noise  like  the  hollow  discharge  of  artillery.  It  was  like  the  advancing 
line  of  an  army  before,  but  now  its  order  of  battle  is  broken  by  the  shock, 
whilst  its  numerous  parts,  like  the  brave  irregular  groups  into  which 
the  battle-line  has  been  divided,  still  press  onward,  each  towards  that 
point  against  which  chance  or  circumstances  may  have  directed  it 
— some  running  rapidly  in  through  the  narrow  straits  between  the 
rocks — others  .rushing  against  the  perpendicular  masses,  and  raging  furi- 
ously over  them — whilst  others,  hurrying  with  a  hissing  noise,  and  with 
the  speed  of  the  race-horse,  up  the  inclined  plane  of  some  rough  limpet- 
covered  ledge,  pour  over  its  fractured  edges  to  landward,  in  a  thousand 
fantastical  cascades  ; — and  then  the  meeting  again  of  these  various  broken 
bodies  of  water,  tossing,  and  tumbling,  and  foaming,  and  producing  ten 
thousand  sonorous  eddies,  almost  bewilders  the  ears  as  well  as  the  eyes  of 
the  spectator.  And  thus  wave  succeeds  wave,  with  infinite  magnificence, 
each  to  produce  new  effects,  as  the  tide  advances,  and  to  give  birth  to 
ever-changeful  glories,  which  are  perpetually  altered  too  by  the  fitful 
lights  and  shadows  that  may  fall  upon  them,  and  which  are  continually 
raising  a  chorus  of  sounds,  which  might  have  well  begotten  the  fabled 
superstition  of  the  mingled  music  of  the  sea-nymphs  and  tritons.  To 
paint  such  an  ever-varying  subject  as  this  might  well  be  considered  as 
beyond  the  powers  of  the  pencil.  Yet  it  has  been  often  attempted,  and 
by  no  one  with  more  frequency,  or  with  more  perfect  success,  than  by 
that  most  successful  modern  painter  of  coast  scenes,  the  late — alas  for 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


191 


art  that  we  should  now  be  compelled  to  call  him  so — Reverend  John 
Thomson  of  Duddingstone,  whose  matchless  seas  are  so  enlivened  with 
apparent  motion,  that  one  almost  fancies  that  their  sound  is  audible. 
Whilst  engaged  in  thus  observing  the  surges  breaking  on  the  coast,  I 
have  imagined  that  I  could  trace  a  regular  and  gradual  alternate  rise 
and  fall  in  the  size  of  the  waves.  I  fancied  that  I  could  perceive  that 
each  succeeding  wave  was  larger  than  that  which  had  preceded  it,  till 
they  arrived  at  their  climax — aud  that  they  then  gradually  subsided  in 
magnitude,  to  rise  again  through  a  similar  gradation.  But  it  would 
require  more  observation  than  circumstances  have  as  yet  enabled  me  to 
bestow,  to  ascertain  the  accuracy  of  the  remark,  that  they  observe  regular 
numbers  in  their  rise  and  fall.  The  most  sublime  effects  of  the  sea  break- 
ing upon  a  rocky  coast,  will  be  those  produced  by  a  storm.  But  I  should 
rather  say  that  the  time  most  favourable  for  observing  the  changeful 
intricacies  and  varieties  of  the  play  of  its  waves  among  rocks,  is  when 
it  is  heaved  up,  and  thrown  in  upon  the  shore  iu  these  long  high  surges 
which  are  created  by  what  is  called  a  heavy  ground-swell. — E/] 

There  are  situations  where  trees  succeed  near  the  sea,  but  it  is  only 
where  it  is  land-locked  ;  and  in  such  cases,  though  their  combination, 
as  at  Mount  Edgecumbe,  Qmd  at  Roseneath  also,  and  various  other 
places  on  the  western-coast  of  our  island — E.]  is  no  less  beautiful  than 
uncommon,  the  sea  itself  loses  its  grand  imposing  character,  and  puts  on 
something  of  the  appearance  of  a  lake.  Then  it  is  that  trees  are  neces- 
sary ;  for  a  lake  bounded  by  naked  ground,  or  by  naked  rocks,  forms  a 
dull  or  a  rude  landscape ;  but  let  one  change  only  be  made — let  the  sea 
break  against  those  rocks — and  trees  will  no  longer  be  thought  of. 

As,  in  addition  to  its  sublime  character,  the  intricacy  and  variety  of  its 
waves  render  the  sea  independent  of  trees,  so  those  are  the  two  qualities 
in  trees,  which  render  them  of  such  importance  in  all  inland  situations, 
especially  in  those  of  a  tame  unvaried  character ;  and  so  great  is  their 
power  of  correcting  monotony,  that,  by  their  means,  even  a  dead  flat 
may  become  highly  interesting. 

The  infinite  variety  of  their  forms,  tints,  and  light  and  shade,  must 
strike  every  body ;  the  quality  of  intricacy  they  possess  in  as  high  a 
degree,  and  in  a  more  exclusive  and  peculiar  manner.  Take  a  single 
tree  only,  and  consider  it  in  this  point  of  view.  It  is  composed  of 
millions  of  boughs,  sprays,  and  leaves,  intermixed  with  and  crossing 
each  other  in  as  many  directions,  while  through  the  various  openings 
the  eye  still  discovers  new  and  infinite  combinations  of  them ;  yet  in 
fcbifl  labyrinth  of  intricacy  there  is  no  unpleasant  confusion — the  general 
effect  is  as  simple  as  the  detail  is  complicate.    Ground,  rocks,  and 


192 


SIR  UVHDALK  PRICE 


buildings,  where  the  parts  are  much  broken,  become  fantastic  and 
trifling,  besides,  they  have  not  that  loose  pliant  texture  so  well  adapted 
to  partial  concealment ; — a  tree,  therefore,  is  perhaps  the  only  object 
where  a  grand  whole,  or  at  least  what  is  most  conspicuous  in  it,  is 
chiefly  composed  of  innumerable  minute  and  distinct  parts. 

To  show  how  much  those  who  ought  to  be  the  best  judges  consider 
the  qualities  1  have  mentioned,  no  tree,  however  large  and  vigorous, 
however  luxuriant  the  foliage,  will  highly  interest  the  painter,  if  it  pre- 
sent one  uniform  unbroken  mass  of  leaves ;  while  others,  not  only  infe- 
rior in  .size  and  in  thickness  of  foliage,  but  of  forms  which  might  induce 
some  improvers  to  cut  them  down,  will  attract  and  fix  their  attention. 
The  reasons  of  this  preference  are  obvious ;  but  as  on  these  reasons, 
according  to  the  ideas  I  have  formed,  the  whole  system  of  planting, 
pruning,  and  thinning,  for  the  purpose  of  ornament,  depends,  I  must  be 
allowed  to  dwell  a  little  longer  on  them. 

In  a  tree,  of  which  the  foliage  is  everywhere  full  and  unbroken, 
there  can  be  but  little  variety  of  form  ;  then,  as  the  sun  strikes  only 
on  the  surface,  neither  can  there  be  much  variety  of  light  and  shade  ; 
and  as  the  apparent  colour  of  objects  changes  according  to  the  different 
degrees  of  light  or  of  shade  in  which  they  are  placed,  there  can  be  as 
little  variety  of  tint. 

"  Lux  varium  vivumque  dabit,  nullum  umbra  colorem." 

And,  lastly,  as  there  are  none  of  those  openings  that  excite  and  nourish 
curiosity,  but  the  eye  is  everywhere  opposed  by  one  uniform  leafy 
screen,  there  can  be  as  little  intricacy  as  variety.  What  is  here  said 
of  a  single  tree  is  equally  true  of  every  massy  combination  of  them, 
and  appears  to  me  to  account  perfectly  for  the  bad  effect  of  clumps, 
and  of  all  plantations  and  woods  where  the  trees  grow  close  together. 
In  all  these  cases  the  effect  is  in  one  respect  much  worse.  We  are 
disposed  to  admire  the  bulk  of  a  single  tree,  the  ipse  nemus,  though  its 
form  should  be  heavy ;  but  there  is  a  meanness,  as  well  as  a  heaviness 
in  the  appearance  of  a  lumpy  mass  produced  by  a  multitude  of  little 
stems. 

What  are  the  qualities  that  painters  do  admire  in  single  trees,  groups, 
and  woods,  may  easily  be  concluded  from  what  they  do  not ;  the  detail 
would  be  infinite,  for,  luckily,  where  art  does  not  interfere,  the  absolute 
exclusions  are  few.  If  their  taste  be  preferable  to  that  of  gardeners,  it 
is  clear  that  there  is  something  radically  bad  in  the  usual  method  of 
making  and  managing  plantations ;  it  otherwise  would  never  happen 
that  the  woods  and  arrangements  of  trees  which  they  are  least  disposed 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


193 


to  admire,  should  be  those  made  for  the  express  purpose  of  ornament. 
Under  that  idea,  the  spontaneous  trees  of  the  country  are  often  excluded 
as  too  common,  or  admitted  in  small  proportions,  whilst  others  of  pe- 
culiar form  and  colour  take  place  of  oak  and  beech.  But  of  whatever 
trees  the  established  woods  of  the  country  are  composed,  the  same,  I 
think,  should  prevail  in  the  new  plantations,  or  those  two  grand  prin- 
ciples, harmony  and  unity  of  character,  will  be  destroyed.  It  is  very 
usual,  however,  when  there  happens  to  be  a  vacant  space  between  two 
woods,  to  fill  it  up  with  firs,  larches,  See. ;  if  this  be  done  with  the  idea 
of  connecting  those  woods,  which  should  be  the  object,  nothing  can  be 
more  opposite  than  the  effect.  Even  plantations  of  the  same  species  re- 
quire time  to  make  them  accord  with  the  old  growths ;  but  such  harsh 
and  sudden  contrasts  of  form  and  colour  make  these  insertions  for  ever 
appear  like  so  many  awkward  pieces  of  patch-work — and  surely,  if  a 
man  were  reduced  to  the  necessity  of  having  his  coat  pieced,  he  would 
wish  to  have  the  joinings  concealed,  and  the  colour  matched,  and  not 
to  be  made  a  harlequin. 

It  is  not  enough  that  trees  should  be  naturalised  to  the  climate — they 
must  also  be  naturalised  to  the  landscape,  and  mixed  and  incorporated 
with  the  natives.  A  patch  of  foreign  trees  planted  by  themselves  in 
the  outskirts  of  a  wood,  or  in  some  open  corner  of  it,  mix  with  the 
natives  much  like  a  group  of  young  Englishmen  at  an  Italian  conver- 
sazione. But  when  some  plant  of  foreign  growth  appears  to  spring  up 
by  accident,  and  shoots  out  its  beautiful,  but  less  familiar  foliage  among 
our  natural  trees,  it  has  the  same  pleasing  effect  as  when  a  beautiful 
and  amiable  foreigner  has  acquired  our  language  and  manners  so  as  to 
converse  with  the  freedom  of  a  native,  yet  retains  enough  of  original 
accent  and  character,  to  give  a  peculiar  grace  and  zest  to  all  her  words 
and  actions. 

Trees  of  a  dark  colour,  or  a  spire-like  form,  though  when  planted  in 
patches  they  have  such  a  motley  appearance,  may  be  so  grouped  with 
the  prevailing  trees  of  the  country,  as  to  produce  infinite  richness  and 
variety,  and  yet  seem  part  of  the  original  design ;  but  it  appears  to  be 
an  established  rule,  that  plantations  made  for  ornament,  should,  both 
in  form  and  substance,  be  as  distinct  as  possible  from  the  woods  of  the 
country,  so  that  no  one  may  doubt  an  instant  what  are  the  parts  which 
have  been  improved.  Instead,  therefore,  of  giving  to  nature  that  "  rich, 
ample,  and  flowing  robe  which  she  should  wear  on  her  throned  emi- 
nence," instead  of  "  hill  united  to  hill  with  sweeping  train  of  forest, 
with  prodigality  of  shade,"  she  is  curtailed  of  her  fair  proportions, 
pinched  and  squeezed  into  shape,  and  the  prim  squat  clump  is  perched 

N 


194 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


up  exactly  on  the  top  of  every  eminence.  Sometimes,  however,  where 
the  extent  is  so  great  that  common-sized  clumps  would  make  no  figure, 
it  has  been  very  ingeniously  contrived  to  consolidate  (and  I  am  sure 
the  word  is  not  improperly  used)  several  of  them  in  one  larger  lump, 
and  these  condensed,  unwieldy  masses,  are  at  random  stuck  about  the 
grounds. 

^lr.  Mason's  Poem  on  Modern  Gardening,  is  so  well  known  to  all 
who  have  any  taste  for  the  subject,  or  for  poetry  in  general,  that  it  is 
hardly  necessary  to  say  that  the  words  between  the  inverted  commas 
are  chiefly  taken  from  it.  In  the  part  from  which  I  have  taken  these 
two  passages,  he  has  pointed  out  the  noblest  style  of  planting,  in  a  style 
of  poetry  no  less  noble  and  elevated. 

[He  concludes  his  treatment  of  the  part  of  his  subject  which  regards 
planting,  with  these  happy  lines  : — 

"  Instruction  now 
Withdraws  ;  she  knows  her  limits ;  knows  that  grace 
Is  caught  by  strong  perception,  not  from  rules — 
That  undrest  Nature  claims  for  all  her  limbs 
Some  simple  garb  peculiar,  which,  howe'er 
Distinct  their  size  and  shape,  is  simple  still. 
This  garb  to  choose,  with  clothing  dense  or  thin, 
A  part  to  hide,  another  to  adorn, 
Is  Taste's  important  task;  perceptive  song 
From  error  in  the  choice  can  only  warn." — E.] 

In  many  such  plantations  the  trees  which  principally  show  them- 
selves are  larches,  and  they  produce  the  most  complete  monotony  of 
outline.  The  summits  of  round-headed  trees,  especially  the  oak,  vary 
in  each  tree ;  but  there  can  only  be  one  form  in  those  of  pointed  trees : 

"  Linea  recta  velut  sola  est,  et  mille  recurvae." 

On  that  account,  wherever  ornament  is  the  aim,  great  care  ought  to  be 
taken  that  the  general  outline  be  round  and  full,  and  only  partially 
broken  and  varied  by  pointed  trees,  and  that  too  many  of  those  should 
not  rise  above  the  others,  so  as  principally  to  catch  the  eye.  Now, 
wherever  larches  are  mixed,  even  in  a  small  proportion,  over  the  whole 
of  a  plantation,  the  quickness  of  their  growth,  their  pointed  tops,  and 
the  peculiarity  of  their  colour,  make  them  so  conspicuous,  that  the 
whole  wood  seems  to  consist  of  nothing  else. 

I  have  seen  two  places  on  a  very  large  scale  laid  out  by  a  professed 
improver  of  high  reputation,  where  all  the  defects  I  have  mentioned 
were  most  strikingly  exemplified.    Some  persons  have  ima,Lrined,  that 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


195 


by  a  professor  of  high  reputation  I  must  here  mean  Mr.  Repton ;  but 
these  two  places,  which  were  laid  out  before  he  took  to  the  profession, 
clearly  prove  that  it  did  not  then  require  his  talents  to  gain  a  high  re- 
putation— I  hope  in  future  it  will  be  less  easily  acquired.  Whatever 
might  be  the  other  trees  of  which  the  separate  clumps  consisted,  nothing 
was  seen  above  but  larches ;  from  the  .multitude  of  their  sharp  points 
the  whole  country  appeared  en  herisson,  and  had  much  the  same  degree 
of  resemblance  to  natural  scenery,  as  one  of  the  old  military  plans  with 
scattered  platoons  of  spearmen,  has  to  a  print  after  Claude  or  Poussin. 
With  all  my  admiration  of  trees,  I  had  rather  be  without  them  thin 
have  them  so  disposed.  Indeed,  I  have  often  seen  hills,  where  the  out- 
line, the  swellings,  and  the  deep  hollows  were  so  striking,  and  where  the 
surface  was  so  varied  by  the  mixture  of  smooth  close-bitten  turf,  with 
the  rich,  though  short  clothing  of  fern,  heath,  or  furze,  and  by  the  dif- 
ferent openings  and  sheep-tracks  among  them,  that  I  should  have  been 
sorry  to  have  had  the  whole  covered  with  the  finest  wood ;  nay,  I 
could  hardly  have  wished  for  trees  the  most  happily  disposed,  and,  of 
course,  should  have  dreaded  those  which  are  usually  placed  there  by 
art.  An  improver  has  rarely  such  dread.  In  general  the  first  idea  that 
strikes  him,  is  that  of  distinguishing  his  property ;  nor  is  he  easy  till 
he  has  put  his  pitch-mark  on  all  the  summits.  Indeed,  this  gratifies 
his  desire  of  celebrity,  by  exciting  the  curiosity  and  admiration  of  the 
vulgar;  and  travellers  of  taste  will  naturally  be  provoked  to  inquire — 
though  from  another  motive — to  whom  those  unfortunate  hills  belong. 

£1  believe  I  have  mentioned  in  another  work  a  fact  regarding  the 
marks  of  such  improvers,  which  is  perhaps  one  of  the  most  wonderful 
on  record.  A  gentleman  in  a  northern  county  of  Scotland,  though  he 
did  not  exactly  gratify  the  passing  traveller  by  enabling  him  to  read 
his  own  name,  actually  planted  the  name  of  his  place  in  letters  that 
covered  a  hill  side.  This  almost  incredible  piece  of  taste  I  saw  and 
read  with  my  own  eyes. — E.[] 

It  is  melancholy  to  compare  the  slow  progress  of  beauty  with  the 
upstart  growth  of  deformity.  Trees  and  woods  planted  in  the  most 
judicious  style,  will  not  for  years  strongly  attract  the  painter's  notice, 
though  the  planter,  like  a  fond  parent,  feels  the  greatest  tenderness  for 
his  children,  at  the  time  they  are  least  interesting  to  others.  Madame 
de  Sevigne,  whose  maternal  tenderness  seems  to  have  extended  itself  to 
her  plantations,  says,  "  Je  fais  jeter  a  bas  de  grands  arbres,  parce  qu'ils 
font  ombrage,  ou  qu'ils  incommodent  mes  jeunes  enfants." 

But  to  the  deformer — a  name  too  often  synonymous  to  the  improver 
■ — it  is  not  necessary  that  his  trees  should  have  attained  their  full 


196 


SIR  UVEDALK  PRICE 


growth  ;  as  soon  as  be  has  planted  them  in  Lis  round  fences,  his  prin- 
cipal work  is  done — the  eye  which  used  to  follow  with  delight  the  bold 
sweep  of  outline,  and  all  the  playful  undulation  of  ground,  finds  itself 
suddenly  checked  and  its  progress  stopt,  even  by  these  embryo  clumps. 
They  have  the  same  effect  on  the  great  features  of  nature  as  an  ex  - 
crescence on  those  of  the  human  face  ;  in  which,  though  the  proportion 
of  one  feature  to  another  greatly  varies  in  different  persons,  yet  these 
differences,  like  others  of  a  similar  kind  in  inanimate  nature,  give 
variety  of  character  without  disturbing  the  general  accord  of  the  parts  ; 
but  let  there  be  a  wart  or  a  pimple  on  any  prominent  feature — no 
dignity  or  beauty  of  countenance  can  detach  the  attention  from  it ; 
that  little,  round,  distinct  lump,  while  it  disgusts  the  eye,  has  a  fasci- 
nating power  of  fixing  it  on  its  own  deformity.  This  is  precisely  the 
effect  of  clumps  :  the  beauty  or  grandeur  of  the  surrounding  parts  only 
serve  to  make  them  more  horribly  conspicuous ;  and  the  dark  tint  of 
the  Scotch  fir,  of  which  they  are  generally  composed,  as  it  separates 
them  by  colour,  as  well  as  by  form,  from  every  other  object,  adds  the 
last  finish. 

But  even  large  plantations  of  firs,  when  they  are  not  the  natural  and 
the  prevailing  trees  of  the  country,  have  a  harsh  and  heavy  look,  from 
their  not  harmonizing  with  the  rest  of  the  landscape ;  and  this  is  par- 
ticularly the  case  when,  as  it  sometimes  happens,  one  side  of  a  valley  is 
planted  solely  with  firs,  the  other  with  deciduous  trees.  The  common 
expressions  of  a  heavy  colour,  or  a  heavy  form,  show  that  the  eye  feels 
an  impression  from  objects  analogous  to  that  of  weight ;  thence  arises 
the  necessity  of  preserving  what  may  be  called  a  proper  balance,  so  that 
the  quantity  of  dark  colour  on  one  side,  or  in  one  part  of  the  scene, 
should  not  in  any  striking  degree  outweigh  the  other ;  and  this  is  a 
very  material  point  in  the  art  of  painting.  If  in  a  picture,  the  one  half 
were  to  be  light  and  airy  both  in  the  forms  and  in  the  tints,  and  the 
other  half  one  black  heavy  lump,  the  most  ignorant  person  would 
probably  be  displeased,  though  he  might  not  know  upon  what  principle, 
with  the  want  of  balance  and  of  harmony ;  for  those  harsh  discordant 
forms  and  colours,  not  only  act  more  forcibly  from  being  brought 
together  within  a  small  compass,  but  also,  because  in  painting  they  are 
not  authorised  by  fashion,  or  rendered  familiar  by  custom. 

One  principal  cause  of  the  extreme  heaviness  of  fir  plantations  is  their 
closeness.  A  planter  very  naturally  wishes  to  produce  some  appearance 
of  wood  as  soon  as  possible  ;  he  therefore  sets  his  trees  very  near  to- 
gether, and  so  they  generally  remain,  for  he  has  seldom  the  resolution  to 
thin  them  sufficiently :  they  are  consequently  all  drawn  up  together 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


197 


nearly  to  the  same  height ;  and  as  their  heads  touch  each  other,  no 
variety,  no  distinction  of  form  can  exist,  but  the  whole  is  one  enormous, 
unbroken,  unvaried  mass  of  black.  Its  appearance  is  indeed  so  uni- 
formly dead  and  heavy,  that  instead  of  those  cheering  ideas  which  arise 
from  the  fresh  luxuriant  foliage,  and  the  lighter  tints  of  deciduous  trees, 
it  has  something  of  that  dreary  image — that  extinction  of  form  and 
colour — which  Milton  felt  from  blindness  ;  when  he  who  had  viewed 
objects  with  a  painter's  eye,  as  he  described  them  with  a  poet's  fire, 
was 

*  Presented  with  an  universal  blank 
Of  nature's  works." 

The  inside  of  these  plantations  fully  answers  to  the  dreary  appearance 
of  the  outside.  Of  all  dismal  scenes  it  seems  to  me  the  most  likely  for 
a  man  to  hang  himself  in,  though  he  would  find  some  difficulty  in  the 
execution  ;  for,  amidst  the  endless  multitude  of  stems,  there  is  rarely  a 
single  side  branch  to  which  a  rope  could  be  fastened.  The  whole  wood 
is  a  collection  of  tall  naked  poles,  with  a  few  ragged  boughs  near  the 
top ;  above — one  uniform  rusty  cope,  seen  through  decayed  and  decaying 
sprays  and  branches  ;  below — the  soil  parched  and  blasted  with  the 
baleful  droppings ;  hardly  a  plant  or  a  blade  of  grass,  nothing  that  can 
give  an  idea  of  life  or  vegetation.  Even  its  gloom  is  without  solem- 
nity ;  it  is  only  dull  and  dismal  ;  and  what  light  there  is.  like  that  of 
hell, 

"  Serves  only  to  discover  scenes  of  woe, 
Regions  of  sorrow,  doleful  shades." 

In  a  grove  where  the  trees  have  had  room  to  spread,  (and  in  that 
case  I  am  very  far  from  excluding  the  Scotch  fir  or  any  of  the  pines,) 
the  gloom  has  a  character  of  solemn  grandeur — that  grandeur  arises 
from  the  broad  and  varied  canopy  over  head,  for  as  Virgil  says  of  the 
tree, 

u  Media  ipsa  ingentem  sustinet  umbram," 
as  well  as  from  the  small  number  and  great  size  of  the  trunks  by  which 
the  canopy  is  supported,  and  from  the  large  undisturbed  spaces  between 
them  ;  but  a  close  wood  of  firs  is,  perhaps,  the  only  one  from  which  the 
opposite  qualities  of  cheerfulness  and  grandeur — of  symmetry  and 
variety — are  equally  excluded ;  and  in  which,  though  the  sight  is  per- 
plexed and  harassed  by  the  confusion  of  petty  objects,  there  is  not  the 
smallest  degree  of  intricacy. 

Firs,  planted  and  left  in  the  same  close  array,  are  very  commonly 
made  use  of  as  screens  and  boundaries ;  but  as  the  lower  part  is  of 
most  consequence  where  concealment  is  the  object,  they  are,  for  the 


198 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


reasons  I  mentioned  before,  the  most  improper  trees  for  that  purpose. 
I  will,  however,  suppose  them  to  be  exactly  in  the  condition  the  planter 
would  wish,  that  the  outer  boughs,  on  which  alone  he  can  place  any 
dependence,  were  preserved  from  animals  ;  and  that  though  planted 
along  the  brow  of  a  hill,  they  had  escaped  from  wind  and  snow,  and 
the  many  accidents  to  which  they  are  exposed  in  bleak  situations,  they 
would  then  exactly  answer  to  that  admirable  description  of  Mr.  Mason  : 

"  The  Scottish  fir 
In  murky  file  rears  his  inglorious  head, 
And  blots  the  fair  horizon." 

Nothing  can  be  more  accurately,  or  more  forcibly  expressed,  or  raise 
a  juster  image  in  the  mind.  Every  thick  unbroken  mass  of  black, 
especially  when  it  can  be  compared  with  softer  tints,  is  a  blot ;  and 
has  the  same  effect  on  the  horizon  in  nature,  as  if  a  dab  of  ink  were 
thrown  upon  that  of  a  Claude.  This,  however,  is  viewing  it  in  its 
most  favourable  state,  when  at  least  it  answers  the  purpose  of  a  screen, 
though  a  heavy  one;  but  it  happens  full  as  often  that  the  outer  boughs  do 
not  reach  above  half-way  down,  and  then,  besides  the  long,  black,  even 
line  which  cuts  the  horizon  at  the  top,  there  is  at  bottom  a  streak  of 
glaring  light  that  pierces  everywhere  through  the  meagre  and  naked 
poles,  and  shows  distinctly  the  poverty  and  thinness  of  the  boundary. 
Many  a  common  hedge,  with  a  few  trees  in  it,  that  has  been  suffered 
to  grow  wild,  is  a  much  more  varied  and  effectual  screen ;  but  there 
are  hedges,  .where  yews  and  hollies  are  mixed  with  trees  and  thorns, 
so  thick  from  the  ground  upwards — so  diversified  in  their  outline,  in  the 
tints,  and  in  the  light  and  shade,  that  the  eye,  which  dwells  on  them 
with  pleasure,  is  perfectly  deceived,  and  can  neither  see  through  them, 
nor  discover  (hardly  even  suspect)  their  want  of  depth. 

This  striking  contrast  between  a  mere  hedge,  and  trees  planted  for 
the  express  purpose  of  concealment  and  beauty,  affords  a  very  useful 
hint  not  only  for  screens  and  boundaries,  but  for  every  sort  of  plantation, 
where  variety  and  intricacy,  not  mere  profit,  are  the  objects.  We  may 
learn  from  it  that  concealment,  without  which  there  can  be  no  intricacy^ 
cannot  well  be  produced  without  a  mixture  of  the  smaller  growths,  such 
as  thorns  and  hollies ;  which  being  naturally  bushy,  fill  up  the  lower 
parts  where  the  larger  trees  are  apt  to  be  bare.  We  may  also  learn  in 
what  manner  such  a  mixture  produces  variety  of  outline ;  for  in  a  hedge 
such  as  I  have  described,  the  lower  growths  do  not  prevent  the  higher 
from  extending  their  heads,  while  at  the  same  time  by  their  different 
degrees  of  height,  more  or  less  approaching  to  that  of  the  timber  trees, 
they  accompany  and  group  with  them,  and  prevent  that  formal  discon- 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


199 


nected  appearance,  which  hedgerow  trees  left  alone,  after  every  thing 
has  been  completely  cleared  from  them,  almost  always  present. 

If  by  such  means  a  mere  single  line  of  hedge  becomes  an  effectual 
and  varied  screen,  of  course  a  deeper  plantation  conducted  on  the  same 
principles  would  be  a  much  more  varied  boundary,  and  more  impene- 
trable to  the  eye ;  and  it  seems  to  me,  that  if  this  method  were  followed 
in  all  ornamental  plantations,  it  would,  in  a  great  measure,  obviate  the 
bad  effects  of  their  being  left  too  close,  either  from  foolish  fondness  or 
neglect.  Suppose,  for  instance,  that  instead  of  the  usual  method  of 
making  an  evergreen  plantation  of  firs  only,  and  those  stuck  close  to- 
gether, the  firs  were  planted  at  various  distances  of  ten,  twelve,  or  more 
yards  asunder,  and  that  the  spaces  between  them  were  filled  with  the 
lower  evergreens.  All  these  would  for  some  years  grow  up  together, 
till  at  length  the  firs  would  shoot  above  them  all,  and  find  nothing  after- 
wards to  check  their  growth  in  any  direction.  Suppose  such  a  wood 
upon  the  largest  scale,  to  be  left  to  itself,  and  not  a  bough  cut  for  twenty, 
thirty,  any  number  of  years  ;  and  that  then  it  came  into  the  hands  of  a 
person  who  wished  to  give  variety  to  this  rich,  but  uniform  mass.  He 
might  in  some  parts  choose  to  have  an  open  grove  of  firs  only ;  in  that 
case  he  would  only  have  to  clear  away  all  the  lower  evergreens,  and 
the  firs  which  remained,  from  the  free  unconstrained  growth  of  their 
heads,  would  appear  as  if  they  had  been  planted  with  that  design.  In 
other  parts  he  might  make  that  beautiful  forest-like  mixture  of  open 
grove,  with  thickets  and  loosely  scattered  trees ;  of  lawns  and  glades  of 
various  shapes  and  dimensions,  variously  bounded.  Sometimes  he  might 
find  the  ground  scooped  out  into  a  deep  hollow,  forming  a  sort  of  amphi- 
theatre ;  and  there,  in  order  to  show  its  general  shape,  and  yet  preserve 
its  sequestered  character,  he  might  only  make  a  partial  clearing ;  when 
all  that  can  give  intricacy,  variety,  and  retirement  to  a  spot  of  this 
kind,  would  be  ready  to  his  hands. 

It  may  indeed  be  objected,  and  not  without  reason,  that  this  evergreen 
underwood  will  have  grown  so  close,  that  when  thinned,  the  plants 
which  are  left  will  look  bare — and  bare  they  will  look,  for  such  must 
necessarily  be  the  effect  of  leaving  any  trees  too  close.  There  are,  how- 
ever, several  reasons  why  it  is  of  less  consequence  in  this  case.  The 
first  and  most  material  is,  that  the  great  outline  of  the  wood  formed  by 
the  highest  trees,  would  not  be  affected  ;  another  is,  that  these  lower 
trees  being  of  various  growths,  some  will  have  outstripped  their  fellows, 
in  the  same  proportion  as  the  firs  outstripped  them  ;  and,  consequently, 
their  heads  will  have  had  room  to  spread,  and  form  a  gradation  from 
the  highest  firs  to  the  lowest  underwood.    Again,  many  of  these  ever- 


200 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


greens  of  lower  growth  succeed  well  under  the  drip  of  taller  trees,  and 
also  (to  use  the  figurative  expression  of  nurserymen)  love  the  knife  : 
by  the  pruning  of  some,  therefore,  and  cutting  down  of  others,  the  bare 
parts  of  the  tallest  would  in  a  short  time  be  covered  ;  and  the  whole 
of  such  a  wood  might  be  divided  at  pleasure  into  openings  and  groups, 
differing  in  form,  in  size,  and  in  degrees  of  concealment — from  skirtings 
of  the  loosest  texture,  to  the  closest  and  mest  impenetrable  thickets. 

This  method  is  equally  good  in  making  plantations  of  deciduous  trees, 
though  not  in  the  same  degree  necessary  as  in  those  of  firs ;  and  though 
I  have  only  mentioned  ornamental  plantations,  yet,  I  believe,  if  thorns 
were  always  mixed  with  oak,  beech,  &c,  besides  their  use  in  preventing 
the  forest  trees  from  being  planted  too  close  to  each  other,  they  would 
by  no  means  be  unprofitable.  If  they  were  taken  out  before  they  were 
too  large  to  be  moved  easily,  their  use  for  hedges,  and  their  ready  sale 
for  that  purpose,  is  well  known ;  if  left  longer,  they  are  particularly 
useful  for  filling  up  gaps,  where  smaller  plants  would  be  stifled ;  and  if 
they  remained,  they  would  ahvays  make  excellent  hedge-wood,  and 
answer  all  the  common  purposes  of  underwood.  For  ornament,  exotics 
of  different  growths  might  be  added ;  among  which,  the  various  species 
of  thorns  alone  would  furnish  a  considerable  list. 

It  is  not  meant  that  the  largest  growths  should  never  be  planted  near 
each  other ;  some  of  the  most  beautiful  groups  are  often  formed  by  such 
a  close  junction,  but  not  when  they  have  all  been  planted  at  the  same 
time,  and  drawn  up  together.  A  judicious  improver  will  know  when, 
ami  how  to  "deviate  from  any  method,  however  generally  good. 

There  are  few  operations  in  improvement  more  pleasant,  than  that  of 
opening  gradually  a  scene,  where  the  materials  are  not  unfit  for  use, 
but  only  too  abundant ;  the  case  is  very  different  where  they  are 
absolutely  spoiled,  as  in  a  thick  wood  of  firs.  In  that  there  is  no  room 
for  selection  ;  no  exercise  of  the  judgment  in  arranging  the  groups, 
masses,  or  single  trees;  no  power  of  renewing  vegetation  by  priming  or 
cutting  down ;  no  hope  of  producing  the  smallest  intricacy  or  variety. 
If  one  bare  pole  be  removed,  that  behind  differs  from  it  so  little,  that 
one  might  exclaim  with  Macbeth, 

«  Thy  air 

Is  like  the  first — a  third  is  like  the  former — 
Horrible  sight !  " 

and  SO  they  would  unvariably  go  on, 

"  Though  their  line 
Stretch \1  out  to  the  crack  of  doom.'" 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


201 


In  contrasting  the  character  of  a  close  wood  of  firs  only,  with  that  of 
the  mixed  evergreen  plantation  which  I  have  described,  I  do  not  think 
I  have  at  all  exaggerated  the  ugliness,  and  the  incorrigible  sameness  of 
the  one,  and  the  variety  and  beauty  of  which  the  other  is  capable.  I 
mean,  however,  that  variety  which  arises  from  the  manner  in  which 
these  evergreens  may  be  disposed,  not  from  the  number  of  distinct 
species.  I  have  indeed  often  observed  in  forests,  so  many  combinations 
and  picturesque  effects  produced  merely  by  oak,  beech,  thorns,  and 
hollies,  that  one  could  hardly  wish  for  more  variety ;  on  the  other  hand, 
I  have  no  less  frequently  found  the  most  perfect  monotony  in  point  of 
composition  and  effect,  where  there  was  the  greatest  variety  of  trees. 
It  put  me  in  mind  of  what  is  mentioned  of  the  more  ancient  Greek 
painters — that  with  only  four  colours,  they  did,  what  in  the  more  degene- 
rate days  of  the  art,  could  not  be  performed  with  all  the  aid  of  chemistry. 

Variety,  of  which  the  true  end  is  to  relieve  the  eye,  not  to  perplex 
it,  does  not  consist  in  the  diversity  of  separate  objects,  but  in  that  of 
their  effects  when  combined  together — in  diversity  of  composition,  and 
of  character.  Many  think,  however,  they  have  obtained  that  grand 
object,  when  they  have  exhibited  in  one  body  all  the  hard  names  of  the 
Linna?an  system ;  but  when  as  many  different  plants  as  can  well  be  got 
together  are  exhibited  in  every  shrubbery,  or  in  every  plantation,  the 
result  is  a  sameness  of  a  different  kind,  but  not  loss  truly  a  sameness, 
than  would  arise  from  there  being  no  diversity  at  all ;  for  there  is  no 
having  variety  of  character  without  a  certain  distinctness — without 
certain  marked  features  on  which  the  eye  can  dwell.  In  a  botanical 
light,  such  a  Linnyean  collection,  as  I  have  mentioned,  is  extremely 
curious  and  entertaining ;  but  it  is  about  as  good  a  specimen  of  variety 
in  landscape  as  a  line  of  Lilly's  grammar  would  be  of  variety  in  poetry  : — 

"  Et  postis,  vectis,  vermis  societur  et  axis." 

A  collection  of  hardy  exotics  may  also  be  considered  as  a  very  valu- 
able part  of  the  improver's  pallet,  and  may  suggest  many  new  and 
harmonious  combinations  of  colours  ;  but  then  he  must  not  call  the 
pallet  a  picture. 

In  forests  and  woody  commons,  we  sometimes  come  from  a  part 
where  hollies  had  chiefly  prevailed,  to  another  where  junipers  or  yews 
are  the  principal  evergreens,  and  where,  perhaps,  there  is  the  same 
sort  of  change  in  the  deciduous  underwood.  This  strikes  us  with  a 
new  impression ;  but  mix  them  equally  together  in  all  parts,  and  di- 
versity becomes  a  source  of  monotony. 

One  groat  cause  of  the  superior  variety  and  richness  of  unimproved 


202 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


parks  and  forests,  when  compared  with  lawns  and  dressed  grounds, 
and  of  their  being  so  much  more  admired  by  painters,  is,  that  the 
trees  and  groups  are  seldom  totally  alone  and  unconnected ;  that  they 
seldom  exhibit  either  of  those  two  principal  defects  in  the  composition 
of  landscapes,  the  opposite  extremes  of  being  too  crowded  or  too  scat- 
tered ;  whereas  the  clump  is  a  most  unhappy  union  of  them  both — it 
is  scattered  in  respect  to  the  general  composition,  and  close  and  lumpish 
when  considered  by  itself. 

Single  trees,  when  they  stand  alone  and  are  round-headed,  have 
some  tendency  towards  the  defects  of  the  clump ;  and  it  is  worthy  of 
remark,  that  in  the  Liber  Veritatis  of  Claude,  consisting  of  nearly  two 
hundred  drawings,  there  are  not,  I  believe,  more  than  three  single 
trees.  This  is  one  strong  proof,  which  the  works  of  other  painters 
would  fully  confirm,  that  those  who  most  studied  the  effect  of  visible 
objects,  attended  infinitely  less  to  their  distinct  individual  forms,  than 
to  their  grouping  and  connection. 

I  remember  hearing  what  I  thought  a  just  criticism  on  a  part  of  Mr. 
Crabbe's  poem  of  the  Library — he  has  there  personified  Neglect,  and 
given  her  the  active  employment  of  spreading  dust  on  books  of  ancient 
chivalry.  But  in  producing  picturesque  effects,  I  begin  to  think  her 
vis  inertia?  is  in  many  cases  a  very  powerful  agent.* 

The  great  sources  of  all  that  painters  admire  in  natural  scenery,  are 
accident  and  neglect ;  for  in  forests  and  old  parks,  the  rough  bushes 
nurse  up  young  trees,  and  grow  up  with  them  ;  and  thence  arises  that 
infinite  variety  of  openings,  of  inlets,  of  glades,  of  forms  of  trees,  &c. 
The  rudeness  of  many  such  scenes  might  be  softened  by  a  judicious 
style  and  degree  of  clearing  and  smoothing,  without  injuring  what 
might  be  successfully  imitated  in  the  most  polished  parts,  their  varied 
and  intricate  character. 

Lawns  are  very  commonly  made  by  laying  together  a  number  of 
fields  and  meadows,  which  are  generally  cleared  of  every  thing  but 
the  timber.  When  the  hedges  are  taken  away,  it  must  be  a  great 
piece  of  luck,  if  the  trees  which  were  in  them,  and  those  which  were 
scattered  about  the  open  parts,  should  so  combine  together,  as  to  form 
a  connected  whole.  The  case  is  much  more  desperate,  when  a  layer- 
out  of  grounds  has  persuaded  the  owner 

"  To  improve  an  old  family  seat, 
By  laivning  a  hundred  good  acres  of  wheat ; " 

*  Should  this  criticism  induce  any  person  who  had  not  read  the  Library,  to  look 
at  the  part  I  have  mentioned,  be  will  soon  forget  his  motive  for  looking  at  it,  in  his 
admiration  of  one  of  the  most  animated  and  highly  poetical  descriptions  I  ever  read. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


203 


for  the  iusides  of  arable  grounds  have  seldom  any  trees  in  them,  and 
the  hedges  but  few ;  and  then  clumps  and  belts  are  the  usual  resources. 

Such  an  improvement,  however,  is  greatly  admired,  and  I  have  fre- 
quently heard  it  wondered  at,  that  a  green  lawn,  which  is  so  charming 
in  nature,  should  look  so  ill  when  painted.  It  must  be  owned,  that 
it  does  look  miserably  flat  and  insipid  in  a  picture ;  but  that  is  not 
entirely  the  fault  of  the  painter,  for  it  would  be  difficult  to  invent  any 
thing  more  wretchedly  insipid  than  one  uniform  green  surface  dotted 
with  clumps,  and  surrounded  by  a  belt.  If,  however,  instead  of  such 
accompaniments,  we  supposed  a  lawn  to  be  adorned  with  trees  disposed 
in  the  happiest  manner,  still  I  believe  it  would  scarcely  be  possible  to 
make  a  long  extent  of  smooth  uniform  green  interesting  in  a  picture ; 
such  a  scene,  even  painted  by  a  Claude,  would  want  precisely  what  it 
wants  in  nature — that  happy  union  of  warm  and  cool,  of  smooth  and 
rough,  of  picturesque  and  beautiful,  which  makes  the  charm  of  his 
best  compositions. 

But  though  such  scenes  as  the  great  masters  made  choice  of  are  much 
more  varied  and  animated  than  one  of  mere  grass  can  be,  yet  I  am 
very  far  from  wishing  the  peculiar  character  of  lawns  to  be  destroyed. 
The  study  of  the  principles  of  painting  would  be  very  ill  applied  by 
an  improver,  who  should  endeavour  to  give  each  scene  every  variety 
that  might  please  in  a  picture  separately  considered,  instead  of  such 
varieties  as  are  consistent  with  its  own  peculiar  character  and  situation, 
and  with  the  connections  and  dependencies  it  has  on  other  objects. 
Smoothness,  verdure,  and  undulation,  are  the  most  characteristic  beau- 
ties of  a  lawn,  but  they  are  in  their  nature  closely  allied  to  monotony. 
Improvers,  instead  of  endeavouring  to  remedy  that  defect,  towards 
which  those  essential  qualities  of  beauty  are  constantly  tending,  have, 
on  the  contrary,  added  to  it  and  made  it  much  more  striking,  by  the 
disposition  of  their  trees,  and  their  method  of  forming  the  banks  of 
artificial  rivers  ;  nor  have  they  confined  this  system  of  levelling  and 
turfing  to  those  scenes  where  smoothness  and  verdure  ought  to  be  the 
ground-work  of  improvement,  but  have  made  it  the  fundamental  prin- 
ciple of  their  ait. 

With  respect  to  those  objects  where  a  very  different  art  is  concerned, 
the  impressions  are  also  very  different.  A  perfectly  flat  square  meadow, 
surrounded  by  a  neat  hedge,  and  neither  tree  nor  bush  in  it,  is  looked, 
upon  not  only  without  disgust,  but  with  pleasure,  for  it  pretends  only 
to  neatness  and  utility,  and  the  same  may  be  said  of  a  piece  of  arable 
of  excellent  husbandry ;  but,  when  a  dozen  pieces  are  laid  together  and 
called  a  lawn,  or  a  pleasure-ground,  with  manifest  pretensions  to  beauty, 


204 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


the  eye  grows  fastidious,  and  has  not  the  same  indulgence  for  taste  as 
for  agriculture.  Where,  indeed,  men  of  property,  either  from  false 
taste,  or  from  a  sordid  desire  of  gain,  disfigure  such  scenes  or  buildings 
as  painters  admire,  our  indignation  is  very  justly  excited — not  so  when 
agriculture,  in  its  general  progress,  as  is  often  unfortunately  the  case, 
interferes  with  picturesqueness  or  beauty.  The  painter  may  indeed 
lament,  but  that  science  which  of  all  others  most  benefits  mankind,  has 
a  right  to  more  than  his  forgiveness,  when  wild  thickets  are  converted 
into  scenes  of  plenty  and  industry,  and  when  gipsies  and  vagrants  give 
way  to  the  less  picturesque  figures  of  husbandmen  and  their  attendants. 

I  believe  the  idea  that  smoothness  and  verdure  will  make  amends 
for  the  want  of  variety  and  picturesqueness,  arises  from  our  not  distin- 
guishing those  qualities  that  are  grateful  to  the  mere  organ  of  sight, 
from  those  various  combinations,  which,  through  the  progressive  culti- 
vation of  that  sense,  have  produced  inexhaustible  sources  of  delight  and 
admiration.  Mr.  Mason  observes,  that  green  is  to  the  eye  what  har- 
mony is  to  the  ear ;  the  comparison  holds  throughout,  for  a  long  con- 
tinuance of  either,  without  some  relief,  is  equally  tiresome  to  both 
senses.  Soft  and  smooth  sounds  are  those  which  are  most  grateful  to 
the  mere  sense ;  the  least  artful  combination,  even  that  of  a  third 
below  sung  by  another  voice,  at  first  distracts  the  attention  from  the 
tune — when  that  is  got  over,  a  Venetian  duet  appears  the  perfection  of 
melody  and  harmony.  By  degrees,  however,  the  ear,  like  the  eye,  tires 
of  a  repetition  of  the  same  flowing  strain ;  it  requires  some  marks  of 
invention,  of  original  and  striking  character  as  well  as  of  sweetness,  in 
the  melodies  of  a  composer ;  it  takes  in  more  and  more  intricate  com- 
binations of  harmony  and  opposition  of  parts,  not  only  without  confu- 
sion, but  with  delight,  and  with  that  delight  (the  only  lasting  one) 
which  is  produced  both  from  the  effect  of  the  whole,  and  the  detail  of 
the  parts.  This  I  take  to  be  the  reason  why  those  who  are  real  con- 
noisseurs in  any  art,  can  give  the  most  unwearied  attention  to  what 
the  general  lover  is  soon  tired  of.  Both  are  struck,  though  not  in  the 
same  manner  or  degree,  with  the  whole  of  a  scene ;  but  the  painter  is 
also  eagerly  employed  in  examining  the  parts,  and  all  the  artifice  of 
nature  in  composing  such  a  whole.  The  general  lover  stops  at  the 
first  gaze ;  and  I  have  heard  it  said  by  those  who  in  other  pursuits 
showed  the  most  discriminating  taste,  "  Why  should  we  look  at  these 
things  any  more  ? — we  have  seen  them." 

"  Non  ragionar  di  lor  ;  ma  guarda  e  passa." 

I  ll"  having  acquired  a  relish  for  such  artful  combinations,  so  far  from 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


205 


excluding,  except  in  narrow  pedantic  minds,  a  taste  for  simple  melodies 
or  simple  scenes,  heightens  the  enjoyment  of  them.  It  is  only  by  such 
acquirements,  that  we  learn  to  distinguish  what  is  simple  from  what  is 
bald  and  commonplace — what  is  varied  and  intricate  from  what  is  only 
perplexed. 

^Before  proceeding  to  plant  the  grounds  of  a  place  ornamentally, 
it  is  necessary  carefully  to  study  its  character — to  become  thoroughly 
acquainted  with  the  various  inequalities  of  its  surface — to  consider  also 
the  different  soils  which  present  themselves,  and  after  well  digesting  all 
these  particulars,  let  the  improver  then  bestow  some  thought  upon  the 
question,  how  nature  would  have  done  the  work,  had  she  been  pleased 
to  have  executed  it.  Here  I  am  presupposing  the  existence  of  two 
things ;  first,  that  the  place  has  some  variety  of  surface  ;  and  secondly, 
that  the  improver  has  studied  the  wooding  of  nature,  which  is  still 
abundantly  to  be  met  with  in  all  the  wilder  parts  of  our  own  country, 
especially  in  Wales,  or  in  the  Highlands  of  Scotland,  as,  for  example, 
in  the  valleys  running  down  in  all  directions  from  the  Grampians,  where 
the  beauty  of  the  natural  woods  is  so  very  remarkable.  If  the  place 
is  so  utterly  devoid  of  variety  of  surface  as  to  be  absolutely  a  dead  flat, 
and  if  it  has  no  timber  on  it  already,  the  existing  arrangement  of  which 
might  suggest  to  the  improver  some  design  for  ultimately  producing 
intricacy  and  interest,  I  should  be  disposed  to  advise  the  proprietor  to 
fix  his  residence  elsewhere.  But  if  he  is  reduced  to  the  necessity  of 
settling  there,  by  having  no  other  choice,  I  should  say  that  the  best 
advice  that  can  well  be  given  him,  is  to  plant  and  spare  not;  so  that  al- 
though he  may  be  able  to  do  nothing  very  effectual  in  producing  beauty, 
he  may  at  least  have  the  gratification  of  seeing  his  trees  grow,  with  the 
hope  of  leaving  behind  him  something,  which  his  son  or  his  grandson 
may  work  into  a  place.  He  should  always  bear  in  mind,  that  trees  are 
more  easily  removed  than  reared,  and  that  there  is  more  hope  of  a  place 
where  the  house  stands  in  the  middle  of  a  forest,  than  there  can  be 
where  it  appears  staring  in  the  midst  of  a  bare  plain,  without  a  single 
tree  within  view.  But  in  planting — whether  in  the  smaller  groves,  or 
larger  woods,  the  different  kinds  of  timber  trees  should  not  be  mixed, 
so  as  to  produce  one  general  uniformity  of  variety,  if  I  may  so  express 
myself ;  but,  for  the  most  part,  though  perhaps  not  always,  the  indivi- 
duals of  each  kind  should  be  grouped  together  in  considerable  masses, 
irregular  both  in  form  and  size.  The  trees,  moreover,  should  be  planted 
at  such  distances  from  each  other,  as  may  enable  them,  when  grown  up, 
to  stand  without  risk  of  much  interference  with  each  other,  being  well 


206 


SIR  UVKDALE  PRICE 


intermixed  with  Lollies,  thorns,  yews,  hazels,  mountain-ash,  elders, 
bird-el  lorries,  junipers,  and  all  the  different  kinds  of  trees  and  bushes 
of  smaller  growth.  These  should  especially  prevail  about  the  edges  of 
the  grove  or  wood,  and  they  should  likewise  be  planted  as  much  as 
possible  in  patches  of  the  same  plants.  In  short,  the  plantations  of 
nature  should  be  imitated  as  nearly  as  may  be.  The  woods  at  a  distance 
from  the  site  of  the  house  should  be  of  larger  dimensions,  and  they 
should  partake  more  of  the  character  of  groves  as  they  draw  nearer  to 
it,  and  as  they  get  smaller  in  size,  the  variation  of  the  trees  of  which 
they  are  composed,  may  become  more  frequent,  and  the  groves  and 
woods  should  be  so  arranged,  as  that  they  may  play  upon  one  another 
as  you  move  among  them — those  nearer  to  the  eye  shifting  upon  those 
that  are  more  distant,  so  as  to  give  the  idea  of  continuity,  whilst,  at  the 
same  time,  the  eye  may  have  full  permission  to  find  its  way  in  among 
them  in  different  parts.  And  as  I  should  rather  prefer  an  over-doing 
than  an  under-doing  of  wood  at  first,  so  I  should  wish  the  proprietor  to 
be  early  alive  to  the  necessity  of  making  frequent  inroads  upon  the 
outline  of  his  groves  and  woods,  by  carrying  glades  into  them  in  certain 
places,  and  loosening  their  edges  in  others,  so  as  by  degrees  to  give  air, 
that  is  relative  distaflce,  as  well  as  nature,  to  the  whole  scene.  But 
the  attempt  to  convert  so  utterly  flat  and  unfavourable  a  subject  as  that 
which  we  have  now  supposed  to  exist  is  rarely  to  be  made. 

Then,  if  the  improver  has  never  enjoyed  the  opportunity  of  studying 
the  manner  in  which  nature  plants,  he  will  labour  under  great  disad- 
vantages, arid  must  e'en  make  up  the  deficiency  by  availing  himself  a 
largely  as  he  can  of  the  study  of  the  works  of  the  best  landscape  painters, 
modern  as  well  as  ancient. 

But,  granting  that  the  place  which  is  to  be  improved  is  blessed  with 
some  degree  of  variety  of  ground,  though  it  should  even  be  altogether 
without  any  other  requisite,  plantation  alone  may  in  time  give  wonder- 
ful charms  to  it.  For  then  the  sides  of  the  steeps  may  be  covered 
with  woods,  the  trees  of  which  may  be  brought  feathering  loosely  down 
from  the  denser  parts,  and  scattered  in  irregular  confusion  upon  the 
sloping  lawns.  Dingles  and  dells  may  be  made  mysteriously  intricate 
and  interesting,  by  filling  them  with  dark  woods,  and  tangled  thickets 
in  one  place,  and  leaving  natural  openings  of  fairy-like  turf  in  others, 
on  which  the  richest  mellowed  lights  may  fall.  Groves  and  dense 
coverts  may  clothe  the  knolls,  and  straggle  towards  one  another  with 
a  species  of  broken  continuity,  so  as  to  leave  no  mass  in  a  staring  and 
isolated  condition — and  the  whole  may  thus  be  made  to  resemble  a  por- 
tion of  one  of  Nature's  own  wild  woodland  scenes. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


207 


The  question  will  naturally  arise,  how  many  years  must  elapse  before 
such  a  change  could  be  effected  on  a  perfectly  treeless  jjlace  ?  The 
answer  to  this  question  will  naturally  depend  upon  the  nature  of  the 
soil,  and  the  degree  of  liberality  of  expenditure  which  the  proprietor 
may  be  disposed  to  lay  out  upon  its  plantation.  But,  even  under  cir- 
cumstances the  least  favourable,  it  may  be  answered  by  any  one  who 
has  had  the  good  fortune  to  read  a  most  interesting  volume  called  "  the 
Blair-Adam  Book"  written  and  printed,  though  not  published,  by  my 
venerable  and  highly  respected  friend  the  late  Right  Honourable  William 
Adam,  Lord  Chief  Commissioner  of  the  Jury  Court  in  Scotland.  The 
origin  of  this  work  is  thus  graphically  recorded  in  its  own  pages  : — "  It 
was  on  a  fine  Sunday,  lying  on  the  grassy  summit  of  Bennarty,  above 
its  craggy  brow,  that  Sir  Walter  Scott  said,  looking  first  at  the  flat 
expanse  of  Kinross-shire,  (on  the  south  side  of  the  Ochils,)  and  then 
at  the  space  which  Blair-Adam  fills  between  the  hill  of  Drumglow,  (the 
highest  of  the  Cleish  hills,)  and  the  valley  of  Lochore,  'What  an  extra- 
ordinary thing  it  is,  that  here  to  the  north  so  little  appears  to  have  been 
done,  where  there  are  so  many  proprietors  to  work  upon  it,  and  to  the 
south,  here  is  a  district  of  country  entirely  made  by  the  efforts  of  one 
family,  in  three  generations,  and  one  of  them  amongst  us  in  the  full 
enjoyment  of  what  has  been  done  by  his  two  predecessors  and  himself ! 
Blair-Adam,  as  I  have  always  heard,  had  a  wild,  uncomely,  and  un- 
hospitable  appearance,  before  its  improvements  were  begun.  It  would 
be  most  curious  to  record  in  writing  its  original  state,  and  trace  its 
gradual  progress  to  its  present  condition.'"  The  idea  thus  suggested  by 
Sir  Walter  Scott,  so  pleased  the  Chief  Commissioner,  that  he  resolved 
to  carry  it  into  effect,  and  thus  was  the  Blair-Adam  Book  produced. 

Before  the  year  1733,  the  property  of  Blair-Adam,  lying  in  an  ex- 
tremely dull  and  unpromising  country,  which  might  be  said  to  be  entire- 
ly destitute  of  wood,  had  but  one  solitary  ash-tree  upon  it.  The  author 
of  the  book  divides  the  history  of  the  progress  of  its  improvement  from 
this  truly  hopeless  state,  into  three  distinct  eras,  viz  : — that  from  1733, 
when  his  grandfather  William  Adam  began  his  operations,  to  1748,  when 
he  died — the  second  era,  that  from  1 748,  when  his  father  John  Adam 
succeeded,  to  1792,  when  he  died — and  the  third,  from  1792,  when  the 
late  Lord  Chief  Commissioner  succeeded,  to  the  date  of  writing  the  book 
in  1834.  To  explain  more  perfectly  the  extent  of  beneficial  change 
produced  on  the  property  during  these  different  eras,  the  work  is  illus- 
trated with  four  plans. 

The  first  of  these  plans  shows  the  state  of  the  property  before  1733, 
with  that  single  tree  upon  it,  in  which  it  had  then  so  much  reason  to  rejoice, 


208 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


The  second  exhibits  the  state  of  the  property,  as  left  by  the  grand- 
father, in  1748. 

The  third  represents  it,  as  left  by  the  father,  in  1792. 

And  the  fourth  gives  the  whole  improvements  on  the  estate  as  exe- 
cuted up  to  1834,  and  consequently  it  furnishes  a  valuable  example  of 
what  may  be  accomplished  in  the  course  of  a  century.  There  being 
now  about  nine  hundred  acres  of  wood,  great  part  of  which  is  well-grown 
timber,  yielding  without  any  sacrifice  of  beauty,  a  very  considerable 
revenue. 

Mr.  William  Adam,  the  grandfather,  adopted  that  formal  style  of 
planting  which  prevailed  in  his  time,  so  that  the  second  plan,  which 
shows  the  state  of  the  property  at  his  death,  is  covered  with  straight 
hedge-rows,  bisecting  each  other  at  right  angles — long  avenues  regular- 
ly lined  off,  each  mathematically  to  correspond  with  the  other — and  in 
certain  places  circles,  some  of  solid  plantation  surrounded  by  lawn — 
and  others  of  open  lawn  surrounded  by  the  circle  of  trees.  A  refer- 
ence to  the  third  plan — that  of  1792 — shows  that  John  Adam,  the 
father,  had  not  only  very  much  increased  the  plantations,  but  that  he 
had  succeeded  in  destroying  the  formality  of  the  place  as  left  by  his 
father,  as  well  as  in  giving  to  it  a  considerable  degree  of  intricacy  and 
interest.  But  the  fourth  plan,  that  of  1834,  proves  that  the  Lord  Chief 
Commissioner  added  both  to  the  extent  of  the  timber  on  the  estate,  and 
to  the  beauty  of  the  place,  in  a  still  greater  degree. 

In  thus  so  £>articularly  noticing  Blair- Adam,  I  by  no  means  desire 
to  bring  it  forward  as  a  perfect  specimen  of  landscape  gardening.  Its 
late  venerable  and  highly  gifted  owner  himself,  considered  it  in  no  other 
light  than  as  a  terre  ornee,  where  agriculture,  and  the  necessary  evils 
of  its  accompanying  fences,  were  objects  of  too  great  importance  to  be 
sacrificed,  and  which  consequently  fettered  the  hands  of  taste,  though 
even  these  were  executed  with  unusual  care  and  judgment.  My  reason 
for  selecting  Blair- Adam  is  rather  to  show  how  much  may  be  made  of 
a  place  of  the  most  unfavourable  promise,  by  planting  perseveringly, 
and  with  some  attention  to  the  nature  and  form  of  the  ground.  Where 
it  has  been  possible,  without  sacrificing  utility,  to  introduce  touches  of 
beauty,  such  favourable  opportunities  have  not  been  neglected,  but  have 
been  rendered  successfully  available.  I  need  not  particularize  instances, 
but  I  may  mention  the  Glen,  and  the  Burn,  and  the  Kiery  Craigs,  all  of 
them  objects  of  little  interest  until  rendered  interesting  by  the  beautiful 
manner  in  which  they  have  been  wooded,  as  well  as  the  fruit-garden, 
which,  though  walled  on  three  sides,  has  been  converted  into  a  most  in- 
teresting spot,  by  the  manner  in  which  it  has  been  inclosed  on  the  south 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


209 


side,  and  in  a  great  measure  surrounded  by  a  wilderness,  in  which  is  to 
be  found  intermixed  a  profusion  of  evergreen  trees  and  shrubs  of  remark- 
able growth.  Were  it  a  matter  of  prudence  to  make  a  large  sacrifice 
of  income  to  absolute  taste,  often  in  itself  unprofitable.  I  should  say 
that  Blair- Adam  is  now  in  that  very  state  in  which  a  judicious  land- 
scape gardener,  with  full  powers  and  means  allowed  him.  might  produce 
the  happiest  effects  in  the  shortest  period  of  years,  and  with  the  least 
comparative  labour,  so  as  to  introduce  the  appearance  of  perfect  nature 
into  every  part  of  it. 

It  is  somewhat  remarkable  that  it  should  have  fallen  to  the  lot  of  the 
same  individuals  of  the  same  family,  I  mean  William  and  John  Adam, 
the  grandfather  and  father  of  the  Chief  Commissioner,  to  create  and  alter 
another  place  in  the  same  way  that  they  did  Blair-Adam.  This  was 
the  small  property  of  Xorth-Merchiston,  near  Edinburgh.  It  consisted 
of  a  square  field  of  about  thirty  acres,  which  was  surrounded  bv  a  wall, 
and  planted  by  the  grandfather  with  a  circle  in  the  centre,  which  had 
four  regular  avenues  breaking  off  from  it  in  four  different  directions. 
One  of  these  avenues  terminated  in  a  straight  row  of  trees  running  at 
right  angles  to  it  and  flanking  a  broad  walk  ending  with  a  lime  tree  on 
each  side.  The  vista  to  this  walk  to  the  east  was  the  castle  of  Edin- 
burgh, and  the  tower  of  St  Giles's  Church,  and  the  house  was  placed  at 
the  western  end  of  it.  John  Adam  broke  up  his  father's  formal  lines 
here,  as  he  did  at  Blair-Adam,  and  from  what  I  recollect  of  the  place 
when  I  visited  it  as  a  boy,  the  effects  of  his  operations  were  very  pleas- 
ing. From  the  intimacy  that  subsisted  between  Mr.  Adam  and  Shen- 
stone.  whom  he  visited  at  the  Leasowes.  it  seems  to  be  doubtful  whether 
the  poet's  formation  of  that  celebrated  place  was  not  materially  assisted, 
if  not  suggested,  by  the  hints  which  he  received  from  his  Scottish  friend. 
The  place  of  North  Merehiston  afterwards  passed  into  other  hands,  and 
it  has  since  been  much  demolished  by  having  its  timber  greatly  dimin- 
ished, and  the  Edinburgh  and  Glasgow  canal  carried  directly  through 
it,  so  as  to  subdivide  it.  But  injured  as  it  has  been,  there  yet  remains 
enough  of  beautiful  features  about  it.  to  encourage  a  proprietor  of  taste 
to  give  it  such  restoration  as  might  yet  convert  it  into  a  very  delightful 
villa,  and  the  rich  distant  views  which  it  commands,  add  much  to  the 
temptation  to  commence  such  an  undertaking. 

In  considering  the  effects  of  the  growth  of  plantation  during  a 
century  as  exhibited  at  Blair-Adam.  it  must  be  remembered  that  a 
much  shorter  period  of  active  and  judicious  planting  may  produce 
changes  the  most  satisfactory,  so  as  richly  to  reward  the  proprietor 
who  may  have  so  employed  his  time  and  money,  both  by  the  pleasure 

o 


210 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


and  the  profit  he  may  reap  during  many  years  of  his  own  life.  This, 
of  course,  will  be  more  easily  accomplished  if  ancient  trees  or  older 
woods  have  chanced  to  exist  already,  especially  if  they  do  so  amidst  a 
variety  of  surface,  and  a  favourable  combination  of  natural  features. 
I  could  mention  many  places  where  the  proprietors  who  made  the 
plantations  on  them  still  live  in  green  vigour  to  enjoy  the  daily  im- 
proving effects  of  their  earlier  operations.  But  the  seat  of  a  friend, 
which  I  have  had  occasion  lately  to  visit,  is  at  this  moment  particularly 
in  my  mind,  as  a  most  pregnant  example  of  this.  I  mean  Blairquhan 
in  Ayrshire,  the  residence  of  Sir  David  Hunter  Blair,  Baronet.  There 
the  situation  is  peculiarly  favourable,  from  the  variety  of  form  of  the 
surrounding  grounds,  and  the  shapes  of  the  retiring  hills — from  the 
noble  ancient  trees  that  exist  in  the  vicinity  of  the  house — as  well  as 
from  the  stream  of  the  Girvan  and  its  romantic  glen,  up  which  you 
approach  the  wider  valley,  where  the  mansion  stands  on  its  elevated 
side.  But  the  great  extent  of  judiciously-planted  and  well -grown 
woods,  which  Sir  David  has  created  within  the  short  period  of  thirty 
years,  has  already  had  the  effect  of  giving  a  noble  magnitude  to  the 
demesne.  It  may  now  be  said  to  be  in  that  stage  of  advancement, 
when  the  happiest  results  may  be  anticipated ;  and  these  will  certainly 
be  produced,  by  the  gradual  destruction  of  the  hard  lines  inevitably 
occasioned  by  fences — the  loosening  of  the  edges  of  woods  and  groves 
— the  introduction  of  glades  in  certain  parts  of  them,  and  perhaps  by 
the  enrichment  of  portions  of  the  more  open  lawns  by  partial  planta- 
tions. 

I  may  likewise  notice  Dunskey,  near  Portpatrick,  a  place  belonging 
to  Colonel  Hunter  Blair,  brother  to  Sir  David,  which  affords,  if  pos- 
sible, a  still  more  remarkable  example  of  what  may  be  done  by  plan- 
tation, even  in  apparently  the  most  unfavourable  circumstances.  About 
eight  hundred  acres  of  thriving  wood  having  been  got  up  there  within 
a  very  short  period  of  time,  on  ground  generally  much  elevated,  and 
exposed  to  the  whole  blast  from  the  Irish  Channel.  In  the  island  of 
Islay,  also,  Mr.  Campbell  of  Islay,  though  a  young  man,  has  in  his 
own  time  raised  about  thirteen  hundred  acres  of  wood,  and  he  has  now 
the  satisfaction  of  being  able  to  drive  for  miles  under  the  shade  of 
thriving  trees  of  his  own  rearing. 

To  conclude  the  few  remarks  which  I  have  ventured  to  subjoin 
to  those  of  Price  upon  planting,  I  shall  only  add,  that  the  effects 
sought  to  be  produced  by  the  mixture  of  the  different  varieties  of  trees 
and  shrubs,  must  be  much  guided  by  the  comparative  greatness  or 
smallness  of  the  place  on  which  the  improver  is  operating,  minute  at- 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


211 


tention  to  the  introduction  of  particular  kinds  being  more  admissible 
in  a  smaller  place,  or  in  the  smaller  or  more  observed  parts  of  a  larger 
place,  than  in  other  positions.  On  this  particular  point,  Mr.  Wheatley 
speaks  most  sensibly — as  indeed  he  does  on  planting  in  general.  "  All 
these  inferior  varieties,"  says  he,  "  are  below  our  notice  in  the  con- 
sideration of  great  effects  :  they  are  of  consequence  only  where  the 
plantation  is  near  to  the  sight ;  where  it  skirts  a  home  scene,  or  borders 
the  side  of  a  walk ;  and  in  a  shrubbery,  which  in  its  nature  is  little, 
both  in  style  and  in  extent,  they  should  be  anxiously  sought  for.  The 
noblest  wood  is  not  indeed  disfigured  by  them  ;  and  when  a  wood,  hav- 
ing served  as  a  great  object  to  one  spot,  becomes  in  another  the  edge 
of  a  walk,  little  circumstances,  varying  with  ceaseless  change  along  the 
outline,  will  then  be  attended  to ;  but  wherever  these  minute  varieties 
are  fitting,  the  grossest  taste  will  feel  the  propriety,  and  the  most 
cursory  observation  will  suggest  the  distinctions — a  detail  of  all  would 
be  endless,  nor  can  they  be  reduced  into  classes.  To  range  the  shrubs 
and  small  trees  so  that  they  may  mutually  set  off  the  beauties  and  con- 
ceal the  blemishes  of  each  other — to  aim  at  no  effects  which  depend 
on  a  nicety  for  their  success,  and  which  the  soil,  the  exposure,  or  the 
season  of  the  day  may  destroy — to  attend  more  to  the  groups  than  the 
individuals — and  to  consider  the  whole  as  a  plantation,  not  as  a  col- 
lection of  plants,  are  the  best  general  rules  that  can  be  given  concern- 
ing them." 

One  remark  more,  and  I  have  done  with  this  part  of  the  subject. 
Nothing  can  be  more  unwise  than  to  trust  to  delicate  foreign  trees  or 
shrubs  for  the  production  of  important  effects,  which  may  thus  be  all 
ruined  by  the  destructive  cold  of  some  severe  winter.  Such  tender 
strangers  may  be  well  enough  introduced  experimentally — but  they 
should  have  places  assigned  to  them  where  their  failure  may  produce 
no  serious  blank,  if  they  should  unfortunately  perish. 

I  shall  offer  but  a  single  word  on  the  subject  of  lawns.  Levelling, 
smooth  shaving,  and  rolling,  are  operations  only  admissible  close  to 
the  house — and  even  there  it  is  better  that  it  should  be  associated  with 
terraces,  bowling-greens,  flower-knots,  and  such  minor  pieces  of  for- 
mality as  are  in  keeping  with  that  of  the  architecture.  Everywhere 
else  the  lawns  should  be  in  rich  and  natural  looking  pasture,  especially 
where  they  begin  to  sweep  away  under  trees,  or  to  lose  themselves  in 
the  woodlands.  In  such  places,  some  of  the  more  graceful  wild  plants, 
such  as  those  of  the  fern  tribe,  the  great  tussilago,  and  others,  may 
occasionally  be  permitted  to  show  themselves — and  even  tufts  of  whins 
may  not  be  altogether  out  of  place.    And  as  it  is  well  known  that  the 


SIR  U  NED  ALE  PRICE 


best  way  to  produce  good  pasture,  is  to  put  a  great  variety  of  animals 
upon  it — so  by  having  groups  of  cattle,  horses,  sheep,  goats,  and  even 
asses,  constantly  grazing  together,  you  will  not  only  thereby  ensure 
the  richness  of  the  surface,  but  you  will  also  add  to  the  interest  of 
your  scenery  by  the  variety  of  the  living  objects  which  will  thus  be 
seen  giving  animation  to  it. — E.] 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


213 


CHAPTER  XII. 

Of  all  the  effects  in  landscape,  the  most  brilliant  and  captivating  are 
those  produced  by  water — on  the  management  of  which,  as  I  have  been 
told,  Mr.  Brown  particularly  piqued  himself.  If  those  beauties  in 
natural  rivers  and  lakes  which  are  imitable  by  art,  and  the  selections  of 
them  in  the  works  of  great  painters,  be  the  proper  objects  of  imitation, 
Mr.  Brown  grossly  mistook  his  talent ;  for  among  all  his  tame  produc- 
tions, his  pieces  of  made  water  are  perhaps  the  most  so. 

One  striking  property  of  water,  and  that  which  most  distinguishes  it 
from  the  grosser  element  of  earth,  is  its  being  a  mirror ;  and  a  mirror 
which  gives  a  peculiar  freshness  and  tenderness  to  the  colours  it  reflects. 
It  softens  the  stronger  lights,  though  the  lucid  veil  it  throws  over  them 
seems  hardly  to  diminish  their  brilliancy,  and  gives  breadth,  and  often 
depth,  to  the  shadows,  while  from  its  glassy  surface  they  gain  a  peculiar 
look  of  transparency.  These  beautiful  and  varied  effects,  however,  are 
chiefly  produced  by  the  near  objects — by  trees  and  bushes  immediately 
on  the  banks,  by  those  which  hang  over  the  water,  and  form  dark  coves 
beneath  their  branches — by  various  tints  of  the  soil  where  the  ground  is 
broken — by  roots,  and  old  trunks  of  trees — by  tussucks  of  rushes,  and 
by  large  stones  that  are  partly  whitened  by  the  air,  and  partly  covered 


214 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


with  mosses,  lichens,  and  weather-stains  ;  while  the  soft  tufts  of  grass, 
and  the  smooth  verdure  of  meadows  with  which  they  arc  intermixed, 
appear  a  thousand  times  more  soft,  smooth,  and  verdant  by  such  con- 
trasts. 

But  to  produce  reflections  there  must  be  objects  ;  for,  according  to  a 
maxim  I  have  heard  quoted  from  the  old  law  of  France,  (a  maxim  that 
hardly  required  the  sanction  of  such  venerable  authority,)  ou  il  riy  a 
rien,  le  roi  perd  ses  droits  ;  and  this  is  generally  a  case  in  point  with 
respect  to  Mr.  Brown's  artificial  rivers.  Even  when,  according  to  Mr. 
AValpole's  description,  "  a  few  trees,  scattered  here  and  there  on  its 
edges,  sprinkle  the  tame  bank  that  accompanies  its  meanders,"  the  re- 
flections would  not  have  any  great  variety,  or  brilliancy.  The  passage 
I  have  quoted  is  in  his  Treatise  on  Modern  Gardening.  The  general 
tenor  of  that  part  is  in  commendation  of  the  present  style  of  made 
water ;  but  this  passage  contains  more  just  and  pointed  satire  than 
ever  was  conveyed  in  the  same  number  of  words :  "  a  few  trees  scattered 
here  and  there  on  its  edges,  sprinkle  the  tame  bank."  It  seems  to  me 
that  in  the  midst  of  praises,  his  natural  taste  breaks  out  into  criticism, 
perhaps  unintended,  and  which,  on  that  account,  may  well  sting  the 
improver  who  reads  them ;  for  the  sting  is  always  much  sharper  when 

"  Medio  de  fonte  leporum 
Surgit  amari  aliquid,  quod  in  ipsis  floribus  angat." 

The  meanders  of  a  river,  which  at  every  turn  present  scenes  of  a 
different  character,  make  us  strongly  feel  the  use  and  the  charm  of 
them  ;  but  when  the  same  sweeps  return  as  regularly  as  the  steps  of 
a  minuet,  the  eye  is  quite  wearied  with  following  them  over  and  over 
again.  What  makes  the  sweeps  much  more  formal,  is  their  extreme 
nakedness.  The  sprinkling  of  a  few  scattered  trees  on  their  edges 
will  not  do  ;  there  must  be  masses,  and  groups,  and  various  degrees 
of  openings,  and  concealment — and  by  such  means,  some  little  variety 
may  be  given  even  to  these  tame  banks,  for  tame  they  always  will 
remain  :  and  it  may  here  be  observed,  that  the  same  objects  which 
produce  reflections,  produce  also  variety  of  outline,  of  tints,  of  lights  and 
shadows,  as  well  as  intricacy.  So  intimate  is  the  connection  between 
all  these  different  beauties  ;  so  often  does  the  absence  of  one  of  them 
imply  the  absence  of  the  others. 

In  the  turns  of  a  beautiful  river,  the  lines  are  so  varied  with  projec- 
tions, coves,  and  inlets — with  smooth  and  broken  ground — with  some 
parts  open,  and  with  others  fringed  and  overhung  with  trees  and  bushes — 
with  peeping  rocks,  large  mossy  stones,  and  all  their  soft  and  brilliant 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


215 


reflections,  that  the  eye  lingers  upon  them  ;  the  two  banks  seem  as  it 
were  to  protract  their  meeting,  and  to  form  their  junction  insensibly, 
they  so  blend  and  unite  with  each  other.  In  Mr.  Brown's  naked  canals, 
nothing  detains  the  eye  a  moment ;  and  the  two  bare  sharp  extremities 
appear  to  cut  into  each  other.  If  in  such  productions  a  near  approach 
to  mathematical  exactness  were  a  merit  instead  of  a  defect,  the  sweeps 
of  Mr.  Brown's  water  would  be  admirable  :  for  many  of  them  seem  not 
to  have  been  formed  by  degrees  with  the  spade,  but  scooped  out  at  once 
by  an  immense  iron  crescent,  which  after  cutting  out  the  indented  part 
on  one  side,  was  applied  to  the  opposite  side,  and  then  reversed  to  make 
the  sweeps  ;  so  that  in  each  sweep  the  indented  and  the  projecting 
parts,  if  they  could  be  shoved  together,  would  fit  like  the  pieces  of  a  dis- 
sected map. 

When  I  speak  of  Mr.  Brown's  artificial  water,  I  include,  without 
much  scruple,  the  greater  part  of  what  has  been  made  since  his  time.  I 
consider  him  as  the  Hercules  to  whom  the  labours  of  the  lesser  heroes 
are  to  be  attributed,  and  they  have  had  no  difficulty  in  copying  his  model 
exactly.  Natural  rivers,  indeed,  can  only  be  imitated  by  the  eye  either 
in  painting  or  reality ;  but  his  may  be  surveyed,  and  an  exact  plan 
taken  of  them  by  admeasurement  ;  and  though  such  a  representation 
would  not  accord  with  a  Claude  or  a  Gaspar,  it  might  with  great  pro- 
priety be  hung  up  with  a  map  of  the  demesne. 

Where  these  serpentine  canals  are  made,  if  there  happen  to  be  any 
sudden  breaks  or  inequalities  in  the  ground — any  thickets  or  bushes — 
any  thing,  in  short,  that  might  cover  the  rawness  and  formality  of  new 
work — instead  of  taking  advantage  of  such  accidents,  all  must  be  made 
level  and  bare  ;  and,  by  a  strange  perversion  of  terms,  stripping  nature 
stark-naked,  is  called  dressing  her. 

A  piece  of  stagnant  water,  with  that  thin,  uniform,  grassy  edge 
which  always  remains  after  the  operation  of  levelling,  is  much  more 
like  a  temporary  overflowing  in  a  meadow  or  pasture,  than  what 
it  professes  to  imitate — a  lake  or  a  river  ;  for  the  principal  distinction 
between  the  outline  of  such  an  overflowing,  and  that  of  a  permanent 
piece  of  water  neither  formed  nor  improved  by  art,  is,  that  the  flood- 
water  is  in  general  everywhere  even  with  the  grass,  that  there  are  no 
banks  to  it,  nothing  that  appears  firmly  to  contain  it.  In  order,  there- 
fore, to  impress  on  the  whole  of  any  artificial  water  a  character  of  age, 
permanency,  capacity,  and  above  all,  of  naturalness  as  well  as  variety, 
some  degree  of  height  and  of  abruptness  in  the  banks  is  required,  and 
different  degrees  of  both  ;  some  appearance  of  their  having  been  in  parts 
gradually  worn  and  undermined  by  the  successive  action  of  rain  and 


SIR  UVKDALE  PRICE 


frost,  and  even  by  that  of  the  water  when  put  in  motion  by  winds  :  for 
the  banks  of  a  mill-pond,  which  is  proverbial  for  stillness,  are  generally 
undermined  in  parts  by  a  succession  of  such  accidental  circumstances. 
All  this  diversity  of  rough  broken  ground,  varying  in  height  and  form, 
and  accompanied  with  projecting  trees  and  bushes,  will  readily  be 
acknowledged  to  have  more  painter-like  effects,  than  one  bare,  uniform 
slope  of  grass ;  that  acknowledgment  is  quite  sufficient,  and  the  objec- 
tions, which  are  easily  foreseen,  are  easily  answered  ;  for  there  are 
various  ways  in  which  rudeness  may  be  corrected  and  disguised,  as  well 
as  blended  with  what  is  smooth  and  polished,  without  destroying  the 
marked  character  of  nature  on  the  one  hand,  or  a  dressed  appearance 
on  the  other ; — of  this  I  have  given  some  few  instances  in  my  letter  to 
Mr.  Repton.    But  as  artificial  lakes  and  rivers  are  usually  made,  the 
water  appears  in  every  part  so  nearly  on  the  same  level  with  the  land, 
and  so  totally  without  banks,  that  were  it  not  for  the  regularity  of  the 
curves,  a  stranger  might  often  suppose  that  when  dry  weather  came  the 
flood  would  go  off,  and  the  meadow  be  restored  to  its  natural  state. 
Sometimes,  however,  it  happens,  that  the  bottoms  of  meadows  and  pas- 
tures subject  to  floods,  are  in  parts  bounded  by  natural  banks  against 
which  the  water  lies,  where  it  takes  a  very  natural  and  varied  form, 
and  might  easily  from  many  points,  and  those  not  distant,  be  mistaken 
for  part  of  a  river.   To  such  overflowings  I  of  course  do  not  mean  to  al- 
lude— the  comparison  would  do  a  great  deal  too  much  honour  to  those 
pieces  of  water,  the  banks  of  which  had  been  formed  by  Mr.  Brown  ; 
for  it  is  impossible  to  see  any  part  of  them  without  knowing  them  to  be 
artificial. 

Among  the  various  ways  in  which  the  present  style  of  artificial  water 
has  been  defended,  certain  passages  from  the  poets  have  been  quoted,* 
to  show  that  it  is  a  great  beauty  in  a  river  to  have  the  water  close  to 
the  edge  of  the  grass  : — 

"  May  thy  brimmed  waves  for  this 
Their  full  tribute  never  miss." 

ft  Vivo  de  pumice  fontes 
Roscida  mobilibus  lambebant  gramina  rivis."  -J- 

To  which  might  be  added  the  well  known  passage  : — 
"  Without  o'erflowing,  full." 


*  Essay  on  Design  in  Gardening,  p.  203. 
•f-  Claudian  de  raptu  Proserpina?. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


217 


I  have  such  respect  for  the  feeling  which  most  poets  have  shown  for 
natural  beauties,  and  think  they  have  so  often  and  so  happily  expressed 
what  is,  and  ought  to  be,  the  general  feeling  of  mankind,  that  wherever 
they  were  clearly  and  uniformly  against  me,  I  should  certainly,  as  far  as 
that  general  sensation  was  concerned,  allow  myself  to  be  in  the  wrong. 
In  this  case,  however,  I  can  safely  agree  with  the  poets,  and  yet  con- 
demn Mr.  Brown.  With  regard  to  the  first  instance,  I  might  say,  that 
without  thinking  of  beauty,  it  is  a  very  natural  compliment  to  a  river- 
god  or  goddess,  to  wish  their  streams  always  full ;  but  I  am  ready  to 
admit,  that  by  brimmed  waves  the  poet  meant  as  full  as  the  river  could 
be  without  overflowing,  and  that  it  were  to  be  wished,  for  the  sake  of 
beauty,  that  rivers  could  be  always  kept  in  that  state.  All  this  is  clearly 
in  favour  of  an  equal  height  of  the  water  ;  but  can  it  be  inferred  from 
this,  or,  I  will  venture  to  say,  from  any  passage  whatever,  that  Milton, 
or  any  other  poet,  was  of  opinion  that  the  banks  ought  everywhere  to 
be  of  an  equal  height  above  the  water,  and  the  ground  equally  sloped 
down  to  it  ?  If  it  be  allowed,  as  I  presume  it  must,  that  no  such  idea 
is  to  be  found  amongst  the  poets,  I  am  sure  it  can  as  little  be  justified  by 
natural  scenery ;  for  let  us  imagine  the  river  to  be  brimful,  like  a  canal, 
for  a  certain  distance  from  any  given  point,  and  then,  as  it  perpetually 
happens,  the  bank  to  rise  suddenly  to  a  considerable  height ;  the  water 
must  remain  on  the  same  level,  but  the  brim  would  be  changed,  and 
instead  of  being  brimful,  according  to  an  idea  taken  from  Mr.  Brown, 
not  from  Milton,  the  river  though  full,  would  in  that  place  be  deep 
within  its  banks.  But  still,  it  has  been  argued,  when  the  water  rises 
to  the  upper  edge  of  the  banks,  the  signs  of  their  having  been  worn 
cannot  appear  :  certainly  not  in  Mr.  Brown's  canals,  where  monotony 
is  so  carefully  guarded,  that  the  full  stream  of  a  real  river  would,  for  a 
long  time,  hardly  produce  any  variety.  But  do  rivers,  in  their  natural 
state,  never  swell  with  rain  or  snow,  and,  before  they  discharge  them- 
selves over  the  lowest  parts,  wear  and  undermine  their  higher  banks  ? 
a  distinction,  which  does  not  exist  in  what  are  called  imitations  of  rivers. 
Do  not  the  marks  of  such  floods  on  the  higher  banks  remain  after  the 
river  has  retired  into  its  proper  channel,  that  is,  nearly  to  the  height  of 
the  lower  banks  ?  But  even  on  a  supposition  of  its  never  overflowing, 
and  never  sinking,  the  same  thing  would  happen  in  some  degree  ;  for 
it  does  happen  in  stagnant  water,  and  must  wherever  there  are  any 
steep  banks  exposed  to  the  usual  effects  of  rain  and  frost. 

The  image  in  Claudian  is  extremely  poetical,  and  no  less  pleasing  in 
reality.  The  passage  relates,  however,  to  a  small  rivulet,  not  to  a  river. 
But,  supposing  it  did  relate  to  a  river,  are  we  thence  to  infer  that  accord- 


218 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


ing  to  the  poet's  1110.1111111.:,  nothing  but  grass  ought  anywhere  to  be  in 
contact  with  the  water,  and  that  the  turf  must  everywhere  be  regularly 
sloped  down  to  it  ?  that  there  must  be  no  other  image  ?  When  trees 
from  a  steep  and  broken  bank  form  an  arch  over  the  water,  and  dip 
their  foliage  in  the  stream ;  when  the  clear  mirror  beneath  reflects  their 
branching  roots,  the  coves  under  them,  the  jutting  rocks  upon  which 
they  have  fastened,  and  seem  to  hold  in  their  embrace,  and  the  bright 
and  mellow  tints  of  large  moss-crowned  stones  that  have  their  foundation 
below  the  water,  and  rising  out  of  it,  support  and  form  a  part  of  the 
bank — would  the  poet  sigh  for  grass  only,  and  wish  to  destroy,  level, 
and  cover  with  turf  these  and  a  thousand  other  beautiful  and  picturesque 
circumstances  ?  Would  he  object  to  the  river,  because  it  was  not  every 
where  brimful  to  the  top  of  all  its  banks,  and  did  not  everywhere  kiss 
the  grass  ?  And  are  we  to  conclude,  that  when  poets  mention  one 
beauty,  they  mean  to  exclude  all  the  rest? 

It  may  possibly  be  said,  that  there  are  natural  rivers,  the  banks  of 
which,  like  those  of  Mr.  Brown's,  keep  for  a  long  time  together  the 
same  level  above  the  -water.  There  certainly  are  such  rivers,  but  I 
never  heard  of  their  being  admired,  or  frequented  for  their  beauty.  It 
is  possible  also,  that  there  may  be  found  some  lake  or  mere,  with  a 
uniform  grassy  edge  all  round  it ;  I  can  only  say,  that  such  an  instance 
of  complete  natural  monotony,  though  it  may  be  admired  for  its  rarity, 
cannot  be  a  proper  object  of  imitation.  But  if  an  improver  happens  to 
be  placed  in  a  level  country,  should  he  not  even  there  consult  the 
genius  loci  ?  without  doubt,  and  therefore  he  will  not  attempt  hanging 
rocks  and  precipices ;  but  he  may  surely  be  allowed  to  steal  from  the 
better  genius  of  some  other  scene,  a  few  circumstances  of  beauty  and 
variety  that  will  not  be  incompatible  with  his  own.  By  such  methods, 
many  pleasing  effects  may  be  given  to  an  artificial  river  even  ia  a  dead 
flat;  but  where  there  is  any  natural  variety  in  the  ground,  with  a 
tendency  to  wood  and  other  vegetation,  nothing  but  art  systematically 
absurd,  and  diligently  employed  in  counteracting  the  efforts  of  nature, 
can  create  and  preserve  perfect  monotony  in  the  banks  of  water. 

An  imitation  of  the  most  striking  varieties  of  nature,  so  skilfully 
arranged  as  to  pass  for  nature  herself,  would  certainly  be  acknowledged 
as  the  highest  attainment  of  art ;  for  however  fond  of  art,  and  even  of 
the  appearance  of  it,  some  improvers  seem  to  be,  if  a  stranger  were  to 
mistake  one  of  their  pieces  of  made  water  for  the  Thames,  such  an 
error  I  imagine  would  not  only  be  forgiven,  but  considered  as  the  highest 
compliment,  notwithstanding  the  well  known  exclamation  of  Mr. 
Brown,  when  he  was  looking  with  rapture  and  exultation  at  one  of  his 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


219 


own  canals — 44 Thames  !  Thames!  thou  wilt  never  forgive  me  !"  Yet, 
strange  as  it  must  appear,  no  one  seems  to  have  thought  of  copying 
those  circumstances  which  might  occasion  so  flattering  a  deception.  If 
it  were  proposed  to  any  of  these  professors  to  make  an  artificial  river 
without  regular  curves,  slopes,  and  levelled  banks,  but  with  those  cha- 
racteristic beauties  and  negligencies,  which  so  plainly  distinguish 
natural  rivers  from  all  that  has  hitherto  been  done  in  the  pretended 
imitations  of  them  by  art,  they  would,  in  Briggs's  language,  "  stare  like 
stuck  pigs — do  no  such  thing."  Their  talent  lies  another  way ;  and  if 
you  have  a  real  river,  and  will  let  them  improve  it,  you  will  be  sur- 
prised to  find  how  soon  they  will  make  it  like  an  artificial  one  ;  so 
much  so,  that  the  most  critical  eye  could  scarcely  discover  that  its 
banks  had  not  been  planned  by  Mr.  Brown,  and  formed  by  the  spade 
and  the  wheel-barrow. 

The  lines  in  natural  rivers,  in  by-roads,  in  the  skirtings  of  glades  of 
forests,  have  sometimes  the  appearance  of  regular  curves,  and  seem  to 
justify  the  use  of  them  in  artificial  scenery ;  but  something  always 
saves  them  from  such  a  crude  degree  of  it.  If,  on  a  subject  so  very  un- 
mathematical,  I  might  venture  to  use  any  allusion  to  that  science,  or 
any  term  drawn  from  it,  such  lines  might  be  called  picturesque  asymp- 
totes ;  however  they  may  approach  to  regular  curves,  they  never  fall 
into  them. 

I  am  persuaded  that  a  very  great  improvement  might  be  made  in  the 
banks  of  artificial  water  merely  by  a  different  mode  of  practice,  without 
expecting  from  every  professor  the  eye,  or  the  invention  of  a  Poussin. 
Mr.  Brown  and  his  followers  have  indeed  shown  very  little  invention, 
if  it  even  deserve  that  name,  and  of  that  little  they  have  been  great 
economists.  With  them,  walks,  roads,  brooks,  rivers  are,  as  it  were, 
convertible  terms  ;  dry  one  of  their  rivers,  it  is  a  large  wralk  or  road — 
flood  a  walk  or  a  road,  it  is  a  brook  or  a  river,  and  the  accompaniments, 
like  the  drone  of  a  bagpipe,  always  remain  the  same.  They  do  not  in- 
deed, always  dam  up  a  brook  ;  it  sometimes,  though  rarely,  is  allowed 
its  lil>erty  ;  but  like  animals  that  are  suffered  by  the  owner  to  run  loose, 
it  is  marked  as  private  property,  by  being  mutilated.  No  operation 
in  what  is  called  improvement  has  such  an  appearance  of  barbarity,  as 
that  of  destroying  the  modest  retired  character  of  a  brook.  I  remember 
some  burlesque  lines  on  the  treatment  of  Regulus  by  the  Carthaginians, 
which  perfectly  describe  the  effect  of  that  operation  : 

"  His  eyelids  they  pared  ; 
Good  God,  how  he  stared  !  " 


220 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


Just  so  do  those  improvers  torture  a  brook,  by  widening  it,  cutting  away 
its  natural  fringe,  and  exposing  it  to  "  day's  garish  eye." 

If,  instead  of  having  their  banks  regularly  sloped  and  shaven,  or  being 
turned  into  regular  pieces  of  water,  brooks  were  sometimes  stopped 
partially  and  to  different  degrees  of  height,  and  every  advantage  were 
taken  of  the  natural  beauties  of  their  banks,  a  number  of  pleasing  and 
varied  effects  might  be  obtained.  There  are  often  parts,  where  by  a 
small  degree  of  digging  so  as  to  lower  the  bottom,  or  of  obstruction  by 
mere  earth  and  stones,  the  water  would  lie,  as  in  a  natural  bed,  under 
banks  enriched  with  vegetation  ;  by  such  means  there  would  be  a 
succession  of  still,  and  of  running  water — of  clear  reflection,  and  of  live- 
ly motion. 

These  beauties  are  so  great,  and  so  easily  obtained,  that  before  a 
running  stream  is  forced  into  a  piece  of  stagnant  water,  the  advantages 
of  such  an  alteration  ought  to  be  very  apparent.  If  it  be  determined, 
nothing  that  may  compensate  for  such  a  loss  should  be  neglected  ;  and 
as  the  water  itself  can  have  but  one  uniform  surface,  every  variety  of 
which  banks  are  capable,  should  be  studied  both  from  nature  and  paint- 
ing, and  those  selected,  which  will  best  accord  with  the  general  scenery. 
Objects  of  reflection  are  peculiarly  required,  for  besides  their  distinct 
beauty,  they  soften  the  cold  white  glare  of  what  is  usually  called  a  fine 
sheet  of  water — an  expression  which  contains  a  very  just  criticism  on 
what  it  seems  to  commend  ;  for  certainly  water  is  far  from  being  in  its 
most  beautiful  state,  when  it  is  most  like  the  object  to  which  it  is  thus 
compared.  Collins,  indeed,  in  his  Ode  to  Evening,  has  used  this  kind 
of  expression  with  great  propriety  : — 

'*  Where  some  slteety  lake 
Cheers  the  lone  heath." 

For  water  on  a  heath,  where  there  are  scarcely  any  objects  of  reflection, 
has  a  sheety  appearance ;  yet  in  such  a  situation,  and  towards  the  close 
of  day,  a  cheering  one.  There  is,  however,  one  kind  of  scenery  by  which 
the  expression  may  be  still  more  naturally  suggested ;  and  I  can  easily 
conceive  that  on  seeing  a  piece  of  made  water  in  its  usual  naked  state, 
any  person  might  be  struck  with  the  uniform  whiteness  of  the  water 
itself,  and  the  uniform  greenness,  and  exact  level  of  its  banks,  or  rather 
its  border  ;  the  idea  of  linen  spread  upon  grass  might  thence  very 
naturally  occur  to  him,  which  in  civil  language  he  would  express  by  a 
fine  sheet  of  water.  This  has  always  been  meant  and  taken  as  a  flatter- 
ing expression,  though  nothing  can  more  pointedly  describe  the  defects 
of  such  a  scene  ;  for  had  there  been  any  variety  in  the  banks,  with  deep 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


shades,  brilliant  lights  and  reflections,  the  idea  of  a  sheet  would  hardly 
have  suggested  itself,  or  if  it  had,  he  who  made  such  a  comparison  would 
have  made  a  very  bad  one, 

"  And  likeivd  things  that  are  not  like  at  all." 

But  in  the  other  case,  nothing  can  be  more  alike  than  a  sheet  of  water, 
and  a  real  sheet ;  and  wherever  there  is  a  large  bleaching -ground,  the 
most  exact  imitations  of  Mr.  Brown's  lakes  and  rivers  might  be  made 
in  linen,  and  they  would  be  just  as  proper  objects  of  jealousy  to  the 
Thames  as  any  of  his  performances. 

I  happened  to  be  at  a  gentleman's  house,  the  architect  of  which,  (to 
use  Colin  Campbell's  expression,)  "  had  not  preserved  the  majesty  of 
the  front  from  the  ill  effect  of  crowded  apertures."  A  neighbour  of 
his,  meaning  to  pay  him  a  compliment  on  the  number  and  closeness  of 
his  windows,  exclaimed,  "  What  a  charming  house  you  have  ! — Upon 
my  word  it  is  quite  like  a  lantern."  I  must  own  I  think  the  two 
compliments  equally  flattering ;  but  a  charming  lantern  has  not  yet 
had  the  success  of  a  fine  sheet. 

I  am  aware  that  Mr.  Brown's  admirers,  with  one  voice,  will  quote 
the  great  piece  of  water  at  Blenheim,  as  a  complete  answer  to  all  I 
have  said  against  him  on  this  subject.  No  one  can  admire  more  highly 
than  I  do  that  most  princely  of  all  places ;  but  it  would  be  doing 
great  injustice  to  nature  and  Vanbrugh,  not  to  distinguish  their  merits 
in  forming  it  from  those  of  Mr.  Brown. 

If  there  be  an  improvement  more  obvious  than  all  others,  it  is  that 
of  damming  up  a  stream  which  flows  on  a  gentle  level  through  a  valley ; 
and  it  required  no  effort  of  genius  to  place  the  head,  as  Mr.  Brown 
has  done,  in  the  narrowest  and  most  concealed  part.  He  has,  indeed, 
the  negative  merit  (and  it  is  one  to  which  he  is  not  always  entitled,) 
of  having  left  the  opposite  bank  of  wood  in  its  natural  state ;  and  had 
he  profited  by  so  excellent  a  model — had  he  formed  and  planted  the 
other  more  distant  banks,  so  as  to  have  continued  something  of  the 
same  style  and  character  round  the  lake,  though  with  those  diversities 
which  would  naturally  have  occurred  to  a  man  of  the  least  invention, 
he  would,  in  my  opinion,  have  had  some  claim  to  a  title  created  since 
his  time — a  title  of  no  small  pretension — that  of  landscape  gardener. 
But  if  the  banks  above  and  near  the  bridge  were  formed  or  even  ap- 
proved of  by  him,  his  taste  had  more  of  the  engineer  than  the  painter; 
for  they  have  so  strong  a  resemblance  to  the  glacis  of  a  fortification, 
that  we  might  suppose  the  shape  had  been  given  them  in  compliment 
to  the  first  Duke  of  Marlborough's  campaigns  in  Flanders. 


222 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


The  bank  near  the  house  which  is  opposite  to  the  wooded  one,  and 
which  forms  part  of  the  pleasure-ground,  is  extremely  well  done — for 
that  required  a  high  degree  of  polish,  and  there  the  gardener  was  at 
home.  Without  meaning  to  detract  from  his  real  merit  in  that  part, 
hut  at  the  same  time  to  reduce  it  to  what  appears  to  me  its  just  value, 
I  must  observe  that  two  things  have  contributed  to  give  it  a  rich  effect 
at  a  distance,  as  well  as  a  varied  and  dressed  look  within  itself.  In 
the  first  place,  there  were  several  old  trees  there  before  be  began  his 
works,  and  their  high  and  spreading  tops  would  unavoidably  prevent 
that  dead  flatness  of  outline,  cet  air  ecrase,  which  his  own  close,  lumpy 
plantations  of  trees  always  exhibit.  In  the  next  place,  the  situation 
of  this  spot  called  for  a  large  proportion  of  exotics  of  various  heights ; 
those  of  lower  growth,  though  chiefly  put  in  clumps,  of  which  the  edgy 
borders  have  a  degree  of  formality,  yet,  being  subordinate,  and  not 
interfering  with  the  higher  growths  or  with  the  original  trees,  have 
from  the  opposite  bank  the  appearance  of  a  rich  underwood ;  and  the 
beauty  and  comparative  variety  of  that  garden  scene  from  all  points, 
are  strongly  in  favour  of  the  method  of  planting  I  described  in  a  former 
chapter.  It  is  clear  to  me,  however,  that  Mr.  Brown  did  not  make  use 
of  this  method  from  principle,  for,  in  that  case,  he  would  sometimes,  at 
least,  have  tried  it  in  less  polished  scenes,  by  substituting  thorns, 
hollies,  &c,  in  the  place  of  shrubs.  Of  the  rich,  airy,  and  even  dressed 
effect  of  such  mixtures,  he  must  have  seen  numberless  examples  in 
forests,  in  parks,  on  the  banks  of  rivers,  and  from  them  he  might  have 
drawn  the  -most  useful  instruction,  were  it  to  be  expected  that  those 
who  profess  to  improve  nature  should  ever  deign  to  become  her  scholars. 

It  may  be  said,  however,  that  though  he  did  not  take  this  method  of 
giving  concealment,  richness,  and  variety  to  the  lower  part  of  his  plan- 
tations, and  of  guarding  against  monotony  in  the  outline  above,  yet 
that  he  meant  such  monotony  to  be  prevented  by  constant  and  judicious 
thinning — that  a  professor's  business  is  to  form,  not  to  thin  plantations, 
and  that  Mr.  Brown  ought  not  to  be  made  answerable  for  the  neglect 
of  gardeners.  But  a  physician  would  deserve  very  ill  of  his  patient, 
who,  after  prescribing  for  the  moment,  should  abandon  him  to  the  care 
of  his  nurse,  and  who  in  his  future  visits  should  concern  himself  no 
farther,  but  let  the  disorder  take  its  course,  till  the  patient  was  irre- 
coverably emaciated  and  exhausted.  Mr.  Brown,  during  a  long  prac- 
tice, frequently  repeated  his  visits ;  but,  as  far  as  I  have  observed,  the 
trees  in  his  plantations  bear  no  mark  of  his  attention — indeed,  his 
clumps  strongly  prove  his  love  of  compactness.  There  is  another  cir- 
cumstance in  his  plantations  which  deserves  to  be  remarked — a  favour- 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


223 


ite  mixture  of  his  was  that  of  beech  and  Scotch  firs  in  nearly  equal 
proportion,  but  where  unity  and  simplicity  of  character  are  given  up,  it 
should  be  for  the  sake  of  a  variety  that  will  harmonize,  which  tico  trees, 
so  equal  in  size  and  quantity,  and  so  strongly  contrasted  in  form  and 
colour,  can  never  do. 

This  puts  me  in  mind  of  an  anecdote  I  heard  of  a  person  very  much 
used  to  look  at  objects  with  a  painter's  eye.  He  had  three  cows ;  when 
his  wife  with  a  very  proper  economy,  observed,  that  two  were  quite 
sufficient  for  their  family,  and  desired  him  to  part  with  one  of  them — 
"  Lord,  my  dear,"  said  he,  "  two  cows,  you  know,  can  never  group." 

A  third  tree  (like  a  third  cow)  might  have  connected  and  blended 
the  discordant  forms  and  colours  of  the  beech  and  Scotch  fir ;  but  every 
thing  I  have  seen  of  Mr.  Brown's  works  have  convinced  me  that  he 
had,  in  a  figurative  sense,  no  eye,  and,  if  he  had  had  none  in  the  literal 
sense,  it  would  have  only  been  a  private  misfortune — 

"  And  partial  evil,  universal  good." 

I  have  given  what  I  thought  the  just  degree  of  praise  to  Mr.  Brown 
for  the  method  in  which  he  has  planted  the  garden  scene  which  ac- 
companies one  part  of  the  lake ;  but  to  judge  properly  of  his  taste 
and  invention  in  the  management  of  water,  we  must  observe  those 
banks  with  their  accompaniments,  which  he  has  formed  entirely  him- 
self, and  that  we  may  do  without  quitting  Blenheim ; — below  the  cas- 
cade all  is  his  own,  and  a  more  complete  piece  of  monotony  could 
hardly  be  furnished  even  from  his  own  works.  When  he  was  no 
longer  among  shrubs  and  gravel  walks,  the  gardener  was  quite  at  a 
loss ;  for  his  mind  had  never  been  prepared  by  a  study  of  the  great 
masters  of  landscape  for  a  more  enlarged  one  of  nature.  Finding, 
therefore,  no  invention,  no  resources  within  himself,  he  copied  what  he 
had  most  seen,  and  most  admired — his  own  little  works ;  and  in  the 
same  spirit  in  which  he  had  magnified  a  parterre,  he  planned  a  gigantic 
gravel  walk — when  it  was  dug  out,  he  filled  it  with  another  element, 
called  it  a  river,  and  thought  that  the  noblest  stream  in  this  kingdom 
must  be  jealous  of  such  a  rival. 

["  Water,"  says  Mr.  Wheatley,  "  though  not  absolutely  necessary 
to  a  beautiful  composition,  yet  occurs  so  often,  and  is  so  capital  a 
feature,  that  it  is  always  regretted  when  wanting ;  and  no  large  place 
can  be  supposed,  a  little  spot  can  hardly  be  imagined,  in  which  it  may 
not  be  agreeable.  It  accommodates  itself  to  every  situation — is  the 
most  interesting  object  in  a  landscape,  and  the  happiest  circumstance 


224 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


in  a  retired  recess — captivates  the  eye  at  a  distance — invites  approach, 
and  is  delightful  when  near  ;  it  refreshes  an  open  exposure — it  animates 
a  shade — cheers  the  dreariness  of  a  waste — and  enriches  the  most  crowd- 
ed view  ; — in  form,  in  style,  and  in  extent,  it  may  be  made  equal  to  the 
greatest  compositions,  or  adapted  to  the  least ;  it  may  spread  in  a  calm 
expanse  to  soothe  the  tranquillity  of  a  peaceful  scene  ;  or  hurrying 
along  a  devious  course,  add  splendour  to  a  gay,  and  extravagance  to  a 
romantic  situation.  So  various  are  the  characters  which  water  cau 
assume,  that  there  is  scarcely  an  idea  in  which  it  may  not  occur,  or  an 
impression  which  it  cannot  enforce  ;  a  deep  stagnated  pool,  dank  and 
dark,  with  shades  which  it  dimly  reflects,  befits  the  seat  of  melancholy ; 
even  a  river,  if  it  be  sunk  between  two  dismal  banks,  and  dull  both  in 
motion  and  colour,  is  like  a  hollow  eye  which  deadens  the  countenance  ; 
and  over  a  sluggard,  silent  stream,  creeping  heavily  along  altogether, 
hangs  a  gloom  which  no  art  can  dissipate,  nor  even  the  sunshine  dis- 
perse. A  gently  murmuring  rill,  clear  and  shallow,  just  gurgling,  just 
dimpling,  imposes  silence,  suits  with  solitude,  and  leads  to  meditation  ; 
a  brisker  current,  which  wantons  in  little  eddies  over  a  bright  sandy 
bottom,  or  babbles  among  pebbles,  spreads  cheerfulness  all  around  :  a 
greater  rapidity,  and  more  agitation,  to  a  certain  degree  are  animating ; 
but  in  excess,  instead  of  awakening,  they  alarm  the  senses  ;  the  roar 
and  the  rage  of  a  torrent,  its  force,  its  violence,  its  impetuosity,  tend  to 
inspire  terror ;  that  terror,  which,  whether  cause  or  effect,  is  so  nearly 
allied  to  sublimity." 

There  can  be  no  doubt  that  water,  whether  running  or  spreading  out 
in  a  broad  lake,  or  pool,  very  much  improves  the  animation  of  a  place. 
Even  when  it  is  attended  by  the  most  unfavourable  circumstances,  it  is 
sure  to  be  productive  of  one  grand  aud  ever  changeful  effect — I  mean 
that  of  repeating  the  splendid  colouring  of  the  clouds,  as  well  as  their 
magical  movements  over  the  blue  ether ;  whilst  its  occasional  reflection 
of  the  moon,  or  that  of  the  setting  sun,  which  kindles  up  the  wavelets 
on  its  surface  into  golden  flames,  are  accidents  of  the  most  gorgeous  de- 
scription. However  small  the  body  of  water  may  be,  it  will  be  found 
to  yield  this  description  of  beauty  in  a  greater  or  lesser  degree,  exactly 
in  a  proportion  corresponding  to  that  of  its  size.  Some  extent  of  water, 
then,  is  desirable  in  every  scene,  if  it  can  possibly  be  procured.  That 
place,  of  course,  is  most  to  be  envied,  where  bountiful  Nature  has  made 
it  flow  through  its  grounds  in  spontaneous  streams  of  sufficient  magni- 
tude, or  where  she  has  spread  it  abroad  in  some  large  natural  basin  in 
the  form  of  a  considerable  lake.  In  both  these  cases  the  banks  will  at 
least  be  varied  and  irregular  in  shape,  and  with  these  advantages  much 


UN  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


225 


may  be  done  to  increase  their  beauty,  by  judicious  planting  and  shrub- 
bing. But  where  no  such  natural  waters  exist,  the  construction  of 
artificial  waters  should  certainly  be  attempted,  if  the  nature  of  the 
ground,  and  other  circumstances,  will  admit  of  their  formation.  I  think 
that  the  project  which  most  rarely  succeeds,  and  which  I  honestly  con- 
fess I  have  never,  to  my  mind,  seen  successful,  is  that  of  the  formation 
of  an  artificial  river.  When  executed  even  in  the  most  ingenious 
manner,  a  stranger  may  be  deceived  for  a  time,  by  the  tricks  which  may 
be  employed  to  hoodwink  him,  but  his  disappointment  and  disgust  are 
just  so  much  the  greater  when  these  tricks  are  found  out ;  when  the 
ends  of  the  pretended  river  are  once  discovered,  the  character  of  the 
piece  of  water  as  such  is  gone  for  ever,  and  it  is  always  thenceforth 
regarded  as  a  miserable  cheat.  The  dam  which  confines  an  artificial 
lake  or  pool  has  no  such  offensive  effect  even  when  it  is  detected,  for, 
artificial  or  natural,  the  piece  of  water  still  remains  a  lake  or  pool. 

But  where  the  supply  from  rills  or  springs  is  sufficient,  and  the  ground 
is  at  all  favourable,  it  is  quite  possible  to  construct  a  piece  of  water  which 
shall  have  all  the  appearance  of  a  natural  lake  or  tarn.  The  great 
secret  for  accomplishing  this,  is  to  imitate  nature  in  all  respects,  as  far 
as  art  can  do  so.  The  grand  point,  therefore,  is,  if  possible,  to  select  a 
spot  where  some  natural  valley  or  hollow  can  be  most  easily  blocked  up, 
and  that  with  the  least  appearance  of  artifice,  so  as  to  arrest  the  discharge 
of  the  running  waters  it  may  contain,  until  they  may  swell  up  to  such 
a  height  as  to  float  it  backwards  to  the  required  extent.  I  can  con- 
ceive, nay  I  have  seen,  such  situations  where  the  shores  afforded  bold 
headlands,  and  projecting  points,  and  where  even  rocky  steeps,  and 
broken  recesses  and  promontories  were*  happily  found.  But  where 
these  do  not  exist  already,  it  will  require  an  improver  of  no  ordinary 
talent  to  produce  them  by  artificial  means,  so  that  they  shall  look  at  all 
like  nature,  aud  if  he  is  to  fall  short  of  this  object,  he  had  better  not 
make  the  attempt.  But  much  may  be  accomplished  by  plantation,  and 
this  should  not  be  scanty,  but  so  liberal  as  to  give  ample  room  for  after 
openings,  if  such  shall  appear  to  be  demanded.  When  the  trees  rise  to 
a  tolerable  height,  the  beauty  of  the  contrast  of  light  and  shade  upon 
the  water,  as  well  as  on  its  banks,  will  thus  be  much  increased,  and 
every  little  bay  or  recess  will  begin  to  have  its  peculiar  interest. 

"  Silva  coronat  aquas,  cingens  latus  omne,  suisque 
Frnndibus,  ut  velo,  Phoebeos  submovet  ignes." 

Ovid,  L.  V. 

And  as  the  lapping  of  the  waves  against  the  shores  will  every  day  be  wear- 
ing them  out  more  and  more  into  a  natural  aspect,  and  as  reeds,  sedges, 

p 


226 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


bullrushes,  the  typha,  and  aquatics  of  various  other  kinds,  may  be  planted 
here  and  there  in  the  shallows,  and  water-lilies  in  parts  that  arc  a  little 
deeper,  the  march  of  Nature  will  gradually  advance,  till  she  obtains  a 
perfect  dominion  over  the  whole  scene.  If  the  piece  of  water  be  of 
such  a  size  as  to  admit  of  its  being  the  abode  of  waterfowl,  it  is  quite 
indispensable  to  construct  islands  for  their  breeding  and  protection, 
however  flat  or  small  they  may  be — and  if  these  are  even  covered  over 
with  willows,  and  bounded  by  reeds  and  sedges,  they  will  add  some- 
what to  the  effect  of  the  whole,  whilst  their  winged  and  web-footed 
inhabitants  will  give  a  continual  life  to  the  lake.  As  an  object  of  in- 
terest, as  wrell  as  of  amusement  and  advantage,  fish  should  not  be  for- 
gotten. Nothing  can  be  more  beautiful  than  to  behold  the  trouts  of  a 
lake  rising  at  the  flies,  in  a  fine  summer  evening,  in  so  great  numbers, 
as  absolutely  to  dimple  its  glassy  surface.  To  ensure  this  profusion 
of  fish,  it  is  quite  essential  that  the  rill  that  supplies  the  lake  should 
enter  it  at  one  end  and  quit  it  at  the  other,  so  as  to  produce  a  certain 
degree  of  current  throughout  its  whole  length.  It  is  also  desirable  that 
as  many  little  feeders  as  can  be  commanded  should  find  their  way  into 
the  lake  from  its  sides,  as  it  is  on  the  small  gravelly  shallows  which 
these  form  at  their  emboucheures,  that  the  fish  are  most  inclined  to 
deposit  their  spawn ;  and  to  promote  their  doing  so,  artificial  beds  of 
such  gravel  should  be  projected  into  the  lake,  where  they  do  not  natur- 
ally exist. 

Even  on  the  smallest  piece  of  water  a  swan  produces  a  sparkling 
effect  when  seen  amidst  the  bright  light,  or  the  deep  green  shadow 
which  is  thrown  over  the  surface  of  the  pool  by  the  superincumbent 
foliage,  and  nothing  gives  greater  animation  to  a  scene. 

Before  concluding  my  remarks  in  this  place,  I  must  beg  not  to  be 
misapprehended  as  recommending  the  change  of  every  full,  active, 
bustling,  and  interesting  little  stream  into  an  extensive  inundation. 
Local  circumstances  must  always  guide  every  such  determination.  In 
some  cases  the  sacrifice  may  be  too  great,  and  the  gain  too  small,  whilst 
in  others,  the  change  may  be  so  manifestly  of  advantage,  as  to  render 
the  sacrifice  highly  expedient. — E.] 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


CHAPTER  XIII. 

I  have  now  gone  through  the  principal  points  of  modern  gardening ; 
but  the  observations  I  have  made  relate  almost  entirely  to  the  grounds, 
and  not  to  what  may  properly  be  called  the  garden. 

A  gentleman,  whose  taste  and  feeling,  both  for  art  and  nature,  rank 
as  high  as  any  man's,  was  lamenting  to  me  the  extent  of  Mr.  Brown's 
operations : — "  Former  improvers,"  said  he,  "  at  least  kept  near  the 
house,  but  this  fellow  crawls  like  a  snail  all  over  the  grounds,  and 
leaves  his  cursed  slime  behind  him  wherever  he  goes." 

As  the  art  of  gardening  in  this  extended  sense,  vies  with  that  of 
painting,  and  has  been  thought  likely  to  form  a  new  school  of  painters, 
I  think  I  am  justified  in  having  compared  its  operations  and  effects 
with  those  of  the  art  it  pretends  to  rival,  nay,  to  instruct.  These  two 
rivals,  whom  I  am  so  desirous  of  reconciling,  have  hitherto  been  guided 
by  very  opposite  principles,  and  the  character  of  their  productions  has 
been  as  opposite  ;  but  the  cold  flat  monotony  of  the  new  favourite  has 
been  preferred  by  many,  "  aye,  and  those  great  ones  too,"  to  the  spirited 
variety  of  her  eldest  sister — she  has,  indeed,  been  so  puffed  up  by  this 
high  favour,  that  she  has  hardly  deigned  to  acknowledge  the  relation- 
ship, and  has  even  treated  her  with  contempt.  Those  also,  who,  from 
their  situation  and  influence,  were  best  qualified  to  have  brought  about 
a  union  between  them,  have,  on  the  contrary,  contributed  to  widen  the 


228 


>SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


breach  ;  for  I  have  heard  an  eminent  professor  treat  the  idea  of  judging, 
in  any  degree,  <>f  places  as  of  pictures,  or  of  comparing  them  at  all  together, 
as  quite  absurd.  In  real  life,  the  noblest  part  a  man  can  act,  the  part 
wliich  most  conciliates  the  esteem  and  good-will  of  all  mankind,  is  that 
of  promoting  union  and  harmony  wherever  occasion  offers ;  in  the  pre- 
sent case,  though  a  breach  between  these  figurative  persons  is  not  of 
.serious  consequence  to  society,  yet  I  shall  feel  no  small  pleasure  and  pride 
should  my  endeavours  be  successful.  I  have  shown,  to  the  best  of  my 
power,  how  much  it  is  their  mutual  interest  to  act  cordially  together, 
and  have  offered  every  motive  for  such  an  union ;  and  I  hope  that  pre- 
judices, however  strongly  rooted,  however  enforced  by  those  who  may 
be  interested  in  the  separation,  will  at  last  give  way.  I  may,  perhaps, 
be  thought  somewhat  caustic  for  a  peace-maker,  and,  I  must  own, 

"  My  zeal  flows  warm  and  eager  from  my  bosom.'" 

But  if  war  be  made  for  the  sake  of  peace,  those  who  doubt  the  wisdom 
of  the  expedient  will  agree  that  it  ought  to  be  prosecuted  with  vigour. 

I  never  was  in  company  with  Mr.  Brown,  nor  even  knew  him  by 
sight,  and  therefore  can  have  no  personal  dislike  to  him ;  but  I  have 
heard  numberless  instances  of  his  arrogance  and  despotism,  and  such 
high  pretensions  seem  to  me  little  justified  by  his  works.  Arrogance 
and  imperious  manners,  wliich,  even  joined  to  the  truest  merit  and  the 
most  splendid  talents,  create  disgust  and  opposition,  when  they  are  the 
offspring  of  a  little  narrow  mind,  elated  with  temporary  favour,  provoke 
ridicule,  and  deserve  to  meet  with  it. 

Mr.  Mason's  poem  on  modern  gardening,  is  as  real  an  attack  on  Mr. 
Brown's  system  as  what  I  have  written.  He  has  as  strongly  guarded 
the  reader  against  the  insipid  formality  of  clumps,  &c,  and  has  equally 
recommended  the  study  of  painting  as  the  best  guide  to  improvers ;  but 
the  praise  which  he  has  bestowed  on  Mr.  Brown  himself,  however 
generally  conveyed,  has  spoiled  the  effect  of  so  powerful  an  antidote. 
Most  people,  from  a  very  natural  indolence,  are  more  inclined  to  copy 
an  established  and  approved  practice,  than  to  correct  its  defects,  or  to 
form  a  new  mode  of  practice  from  theory ;  Mr.  Mason's  eulogium  has 
therefore  sanctioned  Mr.  Brown's  system  more  effectually  than  his  pre- 
cepts have  guarded  against  it.  That  eulogium,  however,  (if  I  may  be 
allowed  to  make  a  suggestion,  which  I  think  is  authorised  by  the  tenor 
of  the  poem)  has  been  given  from  the  most  amiable  motive — the  fear  of 
hurting  those  with  whom  he  lived  on  the  most  friendly  terms,  and  who 
had  very  much  employed  and  admired  Mr.  Brown.  Silence  would,  in 
such  a  work,  have  been  a  tacit  condemnation ;  still  worse  to  have 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


229 


"  damned  with  fain  t  praise;" — my  idea  may  possibly  be  taken  upon 
wrong  grounds,  but  I  have  often  admired  M r.  Mason's  address  in  so  deli- 
cate a  situation.  Had  Mr.  Brown  transfused  into  his  works  any  thing  of 
the  taste  and  spirit  which  prevail  in  Mr.  Mason's  precepts  and  descrip- 
tions, he  would  have  deserved,  and  might  possibly  have  enjoyed,  the 
high  honour  of  having  those  works  celebrated  by  him  and  Mr.  Walpole, 
and  not  have  had  them  referred,  as  they  have  been  by  both,  to  future 
poets  and  historians. 

It  may,  perhaps,  be  thought  presumptuous  in  an  individual  who  has 
never  distinguished  himself  by  any  work  that  might  give  authority  to 
his  opinion,  so  boldly  to  condemn  what  has  been  admired  and  practised 
by  men  of  the  most  liberal  taste  and  education  ;  but  the  force  of  fashion 
and  example  are  well  known,  and  few  have  such  energy  of  mind,  and 
confidence  in  their  own  principles,  to  think  and  act  for  themselves  in 
opposition  to  general  opinion  and  practice.  Some  French  writer,  whose 
name  I  do  not  recollect,  ventures  to  express  a  doubt  whether  a  tree 
wavring  in  the  wind,  with  all  its  branches  free  and  untouched,  may  not 
possibly  be  an  object  more  worthy  of  admiration  than  one  cut  into  form 
in  the  gardens  of  Versailles.  This  bold  sceptic  in  theory  had  most 
probably  his  trees  shorn  like  those  of  his  sovereign. 

It  is  equally  probable  that  many  an  English  gentleman  may  have 
felt  deep  regret  when  Mr.  Brown  had  metamorphosed  some  charming 
trout  stream  into  a  piece  of  water ;  and  that  many  a  time  afterwards, 
when,  disgusted  with  its  glare  and  formality,  he  has  been  heavily 
plodding  along  its  naked  banks,  he  may  have  thought  how  beautifully 
fringed  those  of  his  little  brook  once  had  been — how  it  sometimes  ran 
rapidly  over  the  stones  and  shallows,  and  sometimes,  in  a  narrower 
channel,  stole  silently  beneath  the  overhanging  boughs.  Many  rich 
natural  groups  of  trees  he  might  remember,  now  thinned  and  rounded 
into  clumps — many  sequestered  thickets  which  he  had  loved  when  a 
boy,  now  all  open  and  exposed,  without  shade  or  variety — and  all  these 
sacrifices  made,  not  to  his  own  taste,  but  to  the  fashion  of  the  day,  and 
against  his  natural  feelings. 

It  seems  to  me  that  there  is  something  of  patriotism  in  the  praises 
which  Mr.  Walpole  and  Mr.  Mason  have  bestowed  on  English  garden- 
ing ;  and  that  zeal  for  the  honour  of  their  country,  has  made  them,  in 
the  general  view  of  the  subject,  overlook  defects  which  they  have  them- 
selves condemned.  My  love  for  my  country,  is,  I  trust,  not  less  ardent 
than  theirs,  but  it  has  taken  a  different  turn ;  and  I  feel  anxious  to  free 
it  from  the  disgrace  of  propagating  a  system,  which,  should  it  become 
universal,  would  disfigure  the  face  of  all  Europe.    It  is  my  wish  that  a 


SIR  I*  V  ED  ALE  PRICE 


more  liberal  and  extended  idea  of  improvement  should  prevail  ;  that, 
instead  of  the  narrow  mechanical  practice  of  a  few  English  gardeners, 
the  noble  and  varied  works  of  the  eminent  painters  of  every  age  and 
of  every  country,  and  those  of  their  supreme  mistress,  Nature,  should 
be  the  great  models  of  imitation. 

If  a  taste  for  drawing  and  painting  and  a  knowledge  of  their  princi- 
ples, made  a  part  of  every  gentleman's  education  ;  if,  instead  of  hiring 
a  professed  improver  to  torture  his  grounds  after  an  established  model, 
each  improved  his  own  place  according  to  general  conceptions  drawn 
from  nature  and  pictures,  or  from  hints  which  favourite  masters  in  paint- 
ing, or  favourite  parts  of  nature  suggested  to  him,  there  might  in  time 
be  a  great  variety  in  the  styles  of  improvement,  and  ail  of  them  with 
peculiar  excellences.  No  two  painters  ever  saw  nature  with  the  same 
eyes ;  they  tended  to  one  point  by  a  thousand  different  routes,  and  that 
makes  the  charm  of  an  acquaintance  with  their  various  modes  of  concep- 
tion and  execution  :  but  any  one  of  Mr.  Brown's  followers  might  say, 
with  great  truth,  "  we  have  but  one  idea  among  us." 

I  have  always  understood,  that  Mr.  Hamilton,  who  created  Painshiil, 
not  only  had  studied  pictures,  but  had  studied  them  for  the  express  pur- 
pose of  improving  reai  landscape.  The  place  he  created — a  task  of  quite 
another  difficulty  from  correcting,  or  from  adding  to  natural  scenery — 
fully  proves  the  use  of  such  a  study.  Among  many  circumstances  of 
more  striking  effect,  I  was  highly  pleased  with  a  walk,  which  leads 
through  a  bottom  skirted  with  wood  ;  and  I  was  pleased  with  it,  not 
merely  from  what  had,  but  from  what  had  not  been  done  ;  it  had  no 
edges,  no  borders,  no  distinct  lines  of  separation — nothing  was  done, 
except  keeping  the  ground  properly  neat,  and  the  communication  free 
from  any  obstruction.  The  eye  and  the  footsteps  were  equally  uncon- 
fined ;  and  if  it  be  a  high  commendation  to  a  writer  or  a  painter,  that 
he  knows  when  to  leave  off,  it  is  not  less  so  to  an  improver. 

This,  and  other  parts  of  Painshiil  seem  to  have  been  formed  on  the 
precept  contained  in  the  well-known  lines  of  Tasso,  in  his  description  of 
the  garden  of  Armida  : — 

"  E  quel  che'l  bello  e'l  caio  accrescc  a  Topre, 
1/  arte  die  tutto  fa,  nulla  si  scopre." 

Mr.  Hamilton,  however,  is  one  of  the  very  few  who  have  profited  by 
it  ;  for  although  no  precept  be  more  generally  admitted  in  theory  than 
that  of  concealing  the  art  which  is  employed,  none  has  been  less  ob- 
served in  practice.  It  is  true,  however,  that  it  must  not  be  too  strictly 
followed  in  all  cases  ;  and  that,  like  other  excellent  rules,  it.  has  its 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


231 


exceptions.  Every  thing  that  belongs  to  buildings  and  architecture  is 
manifestly  artificial,  and  the  concealment  of  art  entirely  out  of  the 
question.  Whatever  therefore  is  connected  with  the  mansion,  should 
display  a  degree  of  art  and  of  ornament,  in  proportion  to  its  style  and 
character ;  and  I  own  my  regret,  that  all  the  old  decorations  have 
been  banished  from  an  affectation  of  simplicity,  and  what  is  called  nature. 
It  is  obvious,  on  the  same  principle,  that  all  roads,  walks,  and  com- 
munications immediately  connected  with  the  house,  should  be  completely 
regular  and  uniform;  and  where  a  more  extended  part,  as  at  Blenheim, 
is  richly  drest  with  shrubs  and  exotics,  and  kept  in  the  highest  state  of 
polished  neatness,  a  regular  walk  of  the  same  high  polish  is  perfectly 
in  character ;  but  in  other  parts,  not  solely  the  more  distant,  but 
wherever  there  is  anything  of  natural  wildness  and  intricacy  in  the 
scene,  the  improver  should  conceal  himself  like  a  judicious  author,  who 
sets  his  reader's  imagination  at  work,  while  he  seems  not  to  be  guiding, 
but  exploring  with  him  some  new  region.  Among  the  numberless  ex- 
cellences of  Homer,  it  is  not  the  least  that  he  scarcely  ever  appears  in 
his  own  person  :  you  are  engaged  amidst  the  most  interesting  and 
striking  scenes,  and  are  carried  on  from  one  to  another  in  such  a 
manner  as  to  be  totally  unconscious  of  the  consummate  skill  with  which 
your  route  has  been  prepared — and  his  poem  is  the  completest  exem- 
plification of  Tasso's  precept  in  a  more  exalted  art.  The  improver  (if 
I  may  be  allowed  to  compare  small  things  with  great)  should  pursue 
the  same  line  of  conduct  in  his  humbler  art,  though  by  a  different 
process  ;  and  while  he  employs  his  whole  skill  to  lead  the  spectator  in 
the  best  direction  through  the  most  interesting  scenes,  and  towards  the 
most  striking  points  of  view,  and  to  facilitate  his  approach  to  them,  he 
should  not  strive  to  confine  him  to  one  single  route,  and  should  often, 
where  it  is  practicable,  conceal  his  having  made  any  route  at  all. 
There  is  in  our  nature  a  repugnance  to  despotism  even  in  trifles,  and 
we  are  never  so  heartily  pleased  as  when  we  appear  to  have  made 
every  discovery  ourselves.  It  is  this  sort  of  feeling,  as  opposed  to  the 
one  which  arises  from  what  is  plainly  and  avowedly  artificial,  that 
Tasso  seems  to  indicate  by 

"  11  bello  e"l  euro  accresce  a  ropre." 

It  is  a  feeling  that  I  have  more  than  once  experienced  myself  and  observed 
in  others,  when,  after  having  been  long  confined  to  regular  walks,  how- 
ever judiciously  taken,  we  have  enjoyed  the  dear  delight  of  getting  to 
some  spot  where  there  were  no  traces  of  art,  and  no  other  walk  or 


232 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


communication  than  a  sheep-track,  or  some  foot-path  winding  among 
the  thickets. 

It  is  in  such  spots  as  those,  that  art,  if  it  interfere  at  all,  should 
most  carefully  conceal  itself ;  and  in  such,  a  Mr.  Hamilton  would  pro- 
ceed with  a  very  cautious  hand;  but  whatever  effect  an  acquaintance  with 
the  fine  arts,  or  perhaps  the  precept  of  Tasso,  or  the  example  of  Homer, 
may  have  had  on  such  a  mind  as  his,  nothing  of  that  kind  has  influenced 
those  of  professed  improvers ;  and  a  style  very  different  from  that  of 
Painshill  has  been  exhibited  at  no  very  great  distance  from  it,  in  a  place 
begun  I  believe  by  Kent,  and  finished  by  Brown.  A  wood  with  many 
old  trees  covered  with  ivy,  mixed  with  thickets  of  hollies,  yews,  and 
thorns — a  wood,  which  Rousseau  might  have  dedicated  a  la  reverie,  is 
so  intersected  by  walks  and  green  alleys,  all  edged  and  bordered,  that 
there  is  no  escaping  from  them  ;  they  act  like  flappers  in  Laputa,  and 
instantly  wake  you  from  any  dream  of  retirement.  The  borders  of 
these  walks  are  so  thickly  planted,  and  the  rest  of  the  wood  so  imprac- 
ticable, that  it  seems  as  if  the  improver  said — "  You  shall  never  wander 
from  my  walks — never  exercise  your  own  taste  and  judgment — never 
form  your  own  compositions — neither  your  eyes  nor  your  feet  shall 
be  allowed  to  stray  from  the  boundaries  I  have  traced :" — a  species 
of  thraldom  unfit  for  a  free  country. 

There  is,  indeed,  something  despotic  in  the  general  system  of  im- 
provement— all  must  be  laid  open — all  that  obstructs  levelled  to  the 
ground — houses,  orchards,  gardens,  all  swept  away.  Painting,  on  the 
contrary,  tends  to  humanize  the  mind :  where  a  despot  thinks  every 
person  an  intruder  who  enters  his  domain,  and  wishes  to  destroy 
cottages  and  pathways,  and  to  reign  alone,  the  lover  of  painting  con- 
siders the  dwellings,  the  inhabitants,  and  the  marks  of  their  intercourse 
as  ornaments  to  the  landscape. 

Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  told  me,  that  when  he  and  Wilson  the  landscape 
painter  were  looking  at  the  view  from  Richmond  Terrace,  Wilson  was 
pointing  out  some  particular  part ;  and  in  order  to  direct  his  eye  to  it, 
"  There,"  said  he,  "near  those  houses — there!  where  the  Jig  ares  are." 
— Though  a  painter,  said  Sir  Joshua,  I  was  puzzled.  I  thought  he 
meant  statues,  and  was  looking  upon  the  tops  of  the  houses  ;  for  I  did 
not  at  first  conceive  that  the  men  and  women  we  plainly  saw  walking 
about,  were  by  him  only  thought  of  as  figures  in  the  landscape. 

For  the  honour  of  humanity  there  are  minds,  which  require  no  other 
motive  than  what  passes  within.  And  here  I  cannot  resist  paying  a 
tribute  to  the  memory  of  a  beloved  uncle,  and  recording  a  benevolence 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


C2SS 


towards  all  the  inhabitants  around  him,  that  struck  me  from  my  earliest 
remembrance  ;  and  it  is  an  impression  I  wish  always  to  cherish.  It 
seemed  as  if  he  had  made  his  extensive  walks  as  much  for  them  as  for 
himself ;  they  used  them  as  freely,  and  their  enjoyment  was  his.  The 
village  bore  as  strong  marks  of  his  and  of  his  brother's  attentions  (for  in 
that  respect  they  appeared  to  have  but  one  mind)  to  the  comforts  and 
pleasures  of  its  inhabitants.  Such  attentive  kindnesses  are  amply  repaid 
by  affectionate  regard  and  reverence  ;  and  were  they  general  through- 
out the  kingdom,  they  would  do  much  more  towards  guarding  us  against 
democratical  opinions 

"  Than  twenty  thousand  soldiers,  armVl  in  proof." 

The  cheerfulness  of  the  scene  I  have  mentioned,  and  all  the  inter- 
esting circumstances  attending  it,  so  different  from  those  of  solitary 
grandeur,  have  convinced  me,  that  he  who  destroys  dwellings,  gardens, 
and  inclosures,  for  the  sake  of  mere  extent  and  parade  of  property, 
only  extends  the  bounds  of  monotony,  and  of  dreary  selfish  pride  ;  but 
contracts  those  of  variety,  amusement,  and  humanity. 

I  own  it  does  surprise  me,  that  in  an  age,  and  in  a  country  where 
the  arts  are  so  highly  cultivated,  one  single  plan,  and  such  a  plan, 
should  have  been  so  generally  adopted ;  and  that  even  the  love  of 
peculiarity  should  not  sometimes  have  checked  this  method  of  levelling 
nil  distinctions,  of  making  all  places  alike — all  equally  tame  and  in- 
sipid. A  person,  well  known  for  his  taste  and  abilities,  being  at  a 
gentleman's  house  where  Mr.  Brown  was  expected,  drew  a  plan  by 
anticipation,  which  proved  so  exact,  that  I  believe  the  ridicule  it 
threw  on  the  serious  plan,  helped  to  prevent  its  execution. 

Few  persons  have  been  so  lucky  as  never  to  have  seen  or  heard  the 
true  proser;  smiling,  and  distinctly  uttering  his  flowing  commonplace 
nothings,  with  the  same  placid  countenance,  the  same  even-toned 
voice — he  is  the  very  emblem  of  serpentine  walks,  belts,  and  rivers, 
and  all  Mr.  Brown's  works — like  him  they  are  smooth,  flowing,  even, 
and  distinct — and  like  him  they  wear  one's  soul  out. 

There  is  a  very  different  being  of  a  much  rarer  kind,  who  hardly 
appears  to  be  of  the  same  species — full  of  unexpected  turns,  of  flashes 
of  light — objects  the  most  familiar  are  placed  by  him  in  such  singular, 
yet  natural  points  of  view — he  strikes  out  such  unthought-of  agree- 
ments and  contrasts — such  combinations,  so  little  obvious,  yet  never 
forced  nor  affected,  that  the  attention  cannot  flag — but  from  the  de- 
light of  what  is  passed,  we  eagerly  listen  for  what  is  to  come.  This  is 
the  true  picturesque,  and  the  propriety  of  that  term  will  be  more  felt, 


»IR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


if  we  attend  to  what  corresponds  to  the  beautiful  in  conversation. 
How  different  is  the  effect  of  that  soft  insinuating  style — of  those 
gentle  transitions,  which,  without  dazzling  or  surprising,  keep  up  an 
increasing  interest,  and  insensibly  wind  round  the  heart. 

It  is  only  by  a  habit  of  observation  added  to  natural  sensibility,  that 
we  learn  to  distinguish  what  is  really  beautiful,  from  what  is  merely 
smooth  and  flowing,  and  to  give  a  decided  preference  to  the  former. 
By  the  same  means,  also,  we  gain  a  true  relish  for  the  picturesque  in 
visible  objects,  and  likewise  for  what  in  some  measure  answers  to  it — 
the  quick,  lively,  and  sudden  turns  of  fancy  in  conversation.  I  have 
sometimes  seen  a  proser  quite  forlorn  in  the  company  of  a  man  of  bril- 
liant imagination  ;  lie  seemed  "  dazzled  with  excess  of  light,"  his  dull 
faculties  totally  unable  to  keep  pace  with  tbe  other's  rapid  ideas.  I 
have  afterwards  observed  the  same  man  get  close  to  a  brother  proser  ; 
and  the  two  snails  have  travelled  on  so  comfortably  upon  their  own 
slime,  that  they  seemed  to  feel  no  more  impression  either  of  pleasure  or 
envy  from  what  they  had  heard,  than  a  real  snail  may  be  supposed  to  do 
at  the  active  bounds  and  leaps  of  a  stag,  or  of  a  high-mettled  courser. 

This  is  exactly  the  case  with  that  practical  proser,  the  true  improver. 
Carry  him  to  a  scene  merely  picturesque,  he  is  bewildered  with  its  variety 
and  intricacy,  the  charms  of  which  he  neither  relishes  nor  comprehends; 
and  longs  to  be  crawling  among  his  clumps,  and  debating  about  the 
tenth  part  of  an  inch  in  the  turn  of  a  gravel-walk.  The  mass  of  im- 
provers seem  indeed  to  forget  that  we  are  distinguished  from  other 
animals,  by  being 

"  Nobler  far,  of  look  erect ; n 

they  go  about 

'*  With  leaden  eye  that  loves  the  ground," 

and  are  so  continually  occupied  with  turns  and  sweeps,  and  manoeuvring 
stakes,  that  they  never  gain  an  idea  of  the  first  elements  of  composition. 

Such  a  mechanical  system  of  operations  little  deserves  the  name  of 
an  art.  There  are  indeed  certain  words  in  all  languages  that  have  a 
good  and  a  bad  sense  ;  such  as  simplicity  and  simple,  art  and  artful, 
which  as  often  express  our  contempt  as  our  admiration.  It  seems  to 
me,  that  whenever  art,  with  regard  to  plan  or  disposition,  is  used  in  a 
good  sense,  it  means  to  convey  an  idea  of  some  degree  of  invention — of 
contrivance  that  is  not  obvious — of  something  that  raises  expectation, 
and  which  differs  with  success  from  what  we  recollect  having  seen  be- 
fore.   With  regard  to  improving,  that  alone  I  should  call  art  in  a  good 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


235 


sense,  which  was  employed  in  collecting  from  the  infinite  varieties  of 
accident  (which  is  commonly  called  nature,  in  opposition  to  what  is 
called  art,)  such  circumstances  as  may  happily  be  introduced,  according 
to  the  real  capabilities  of  the  place  to  be  improved.  This  is  what 
painters  have  done  in  their  art ;  and  thence  it  is,  that  many  of  these 
lucky  accidents  being  strongly  pointed  out  by  them,  are  called  pictur- 
esque. 

He,  therefore,  in  my  mind,  wrill  show  most  art  in  improving,  who 
leaves,  (a  very  material  point)  or  who  creates  the  greatest  variety  of 
landscapes ;  that  is  of  such  different  compositions  as  painters  will  least 
wish  to  alter:  not  he  who  begins  his  work  by  general  clearing  and  smooth- 
ing, or,  in  other  words,  by  destroying  all  those  accidents  of  which  such 
advantages  might  have  been  made ;  but  which  afterwards,  the  most 
enlightened  and  experienced  artist  can  never  hope  to  restore. 

When  I  hear  how  much  has  been  done  by  art  in  a  place  of  large  ex- 
tent, in  no  one  part  of  which,  where  that  art  has  been  busy,  a  painter 
would  take  out  his  sketch-book  ;  when  I  see  the  sickening  display  of 
that  art,  such  as  it  is,  and  the  total  want  of  effect — I  am  tempted  to 
reverse  the  sense  of  the  famous  line  of  Tasso,  and  to  say  of  such  per- 
formances, 

"  1/n.rte  che  millu  fh,  tutta  si  scopiv.' 


236 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


APPENDIX 
TO  THE  FIKST  ESSAY. 


Great  part  of  my  essay  was  written,  before  I  saw  that  of  Mr.  Gilpin 
on  picturesque  beauty.  I  had  gained  so  much  information  on  that  sub- 
ject from  his  other  works,  that  I  read  it  with  extreme  eagerness,  on 
account  of  the  interest  I  took  in  the  subject  itself,  as  well  as  from  my 
opinion  of  the  author.  At  first  I  thought  my  work  had  been  antici- 
pated ;  I  was  pleased,  however,  to  find  some  of  my  ideas  confirmed,  and 
was  in  hopes  of  seeing  many  new  lights  struck  out.  But  as  I  advanced, 
that  distinction  between  the  two  characters — that  line  of  separation 
which  I  thought  would  have  been  accurately  marked  out,  became  less 
and  less  visible,  till  at  length  the  beautiful  and  the  picturesque  were 
more  than  ever  mixed  and  incorporated  together,  the  whole  subject  in- 
volved in  doubt  and  obscurity,  and  a  sort  of  anathema  denounced 
against  any  one  who  should  try  to  clear  it  up.  Had  I  not  advanced 
too  far  to  think  of  retreating,  I  might  possibly  have  been  deterred  by 
so  absolute*  a  veto,  from  such  authority  ;  but  I  hope  I  shall  not  be 
thought  presumptuous  for  having  still  continued  my  researches,  though 
so  diligent  and  acute  an  observer  had  given  up  the  inquiry  himself, 
and  pronounced  it  hopeless. 

Mr.  Gilpin's  authority  is  deservedly  so  high,  that  where  I  have  the 
misfortune  to  differ  from  him,  his  opinion  will  of  course  be  preferred  to 
mine,  unless  I  can  clearly  show  that  it  is  ill-founded.  I  must,  there- 
fore, endeavour  to  show  in  what  respects  it  is  ill-founded,  as  often  as 
these  points  occur,  and  with  the  best  of  my  abilities  ;  for  anything  short 
of  a  victory,  is  in  this  case  a  defeat. 

I  will  first  mention,  in  general,  the  difficulties  into  which  so  ingeni- 
ous a  writer  has  been  led,  from  losing  sight  of  that  genuine  and  uni- 
versal distinction  between  the  beautiful  and  the  picturesque  which  he 
himself  had  begun  by  establishing,  and  which  separates  their  characters 
equally  in  nature  and  in  art  ;  and  from  confining  himself  to  that  un- 
satisfactory notion  of  a  mere  general  reference  to  the  art  of  painting 
only. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


237 


He  lias  given  it  as  bis  opinion,  that  "  roughness  forms  the  most 
essential  point  of  difference  between  the  beautiful  and  the  picturesque, 
and  seems  to  be  that  particular  quality  which  makes  objects  chiefly 
please  in  painting."  He  therefore  has  thought  it  necessary  in  some 
instances,  to  exclude  smooth  objects  from  painting,  and  to  show  in 
others,  that  what  is  smooth  in  reality,  is  rough  in  appearance ;  so 
that  when  we  fancy  ourselves  admiring  the  smoothness  which  we  think 
we  perceive,  as  in  a  calm  lake,  we  are  in  fact  admiring  the  roughness 
which  we  have  not  observed.  I  will  now  proceed  to  give  the  particular 
instances  of  those  points  in  which  we  differ. 

Mr.  Gilpin  observes,  that  "  a  piece  of  Palladian  architecture  may  be 
elegant  in  the  last  degree ;  the  proportion  of  its  parts,  the  propriety 
of  its  ornaments,  the  symmetry  of  the  whole,  may  be  highly  pleasing  ; 
but,  if  we  introduce  it  in  a  picture,  it  immediately  becomes  a  formal 
object,  and  ceases  to  please."  He  adds,  "  should  we  wish  to  give  it 
picturesque  beauty,  we  must,  from  a  smooth  building,  turn  it  into  a 
rough  ruin." 

Mr.  Gilpin's  first  point  was  to  show  that  a  building  to  be  picturesque, 
must  neither  be  smooth  nor  regular ;  and  so  far  we  agree.  But,  then, 
to  show  how  much  picturesque  beauty  (to  use  his  expression)  is  pre- 
ferred by  painters  to  all  other  beauty,  nay,  howunfit  beauty  alone  is 
for  a  picture,  he  asserts  that  a  piece  of  regular  and  finished  architec- 
ture becomes  a  formal  object,  and  ceases  to  please  when  introduced  in 
a  picture ;  and  that  no  painter,  who  had  his  choice,  would  hesitate  a 
moment  between  that  and  a  ruin. 

Were  this  really  the  case,  we  must  give  up  Claude  as  a  landscape 
painter ;  for  he  not  only  has  introduced  a  number  of  perfect,  regular, 
and  smooth  pieces  of  architecture  into  his  pictures,  but  into  the  most 
conspicuous  parts  of  them.  I  should  even  doubt  whether  he  may  not 
have  painted  more  entire  buildings  as  principal  objects  than  he  has 
ruins,  though  more  of  the  latter  where  they  are  only  subordinate. 

Claude  delighted  in  representing  scenes  of  festive  pomp  and  magni- 
ficence, as  well  as  of  pastoral  life  and  retirement ;  but  if  we  conceive 
those  temples  and  palaces  which  he  painted  in  their  perfect  state,  and 
which  he  accompanied  with  every  mark  of  a  flourishing  and  populous 
country  to  be  deserted  and  in  ruins,  the  whole  character  of  those 
splendid  compositions,  which  have  so  much  contributed  to  raise  him 
above  the  level  of  a  mere  landscape  painter,  would  be  destroyed.  Mr. 
Gilpin  cannot  but  remember  that  beautiful  seaport  which  did  belong 
to  Mr.  Lock,  and  which — could  pictures  choose  their  own  possessors — 
would  never  have  left  him  ;  he  must  have  observed  that  the  architec- 


238 


SIR  UVEDALK  PRICE 


turc  on  the  left  hand  was  regular,  perfect,  and  as  smooth  as  Midi 
finished  buildings  appear  in  nature. 

But  with  regard  to  entire  buildings,  in  contradistinction  to  ruins, 
the  backgrounds  and  landscapes  of  all  the  great  masters  are  full  of 
them,  and  in  many  the  ruins  few  in  proportion ; — so  much  so,  that  in 
the  numerous  set  of  Gaspars  published  by  Vivares,  there  are  scarcely 
any  ruins,  though  numberless  entire  buildings. 

No  painter  more  diligently  studied  picturesque  disposition  and  effect 
than  Paul  Veronese;  yet  architecture  of  the  most  regular  and  finished 
kind  forms  a  very  essential  part  of  his  magnificent  compositions.  Many 
of  these  splendid  edifices  have  the  most  truly  beautiful  appearance  in 
pictures,  especially  when  they  are  accompanied,  as  in  Claude's,  by 
trees  of  elegant  forms,  and  when  every  part  of  the  scenery  accords 
with  their  character.  I  believe,  indeed,  that  we  might  reverse  Mr. 
Gilpin's  position,  and  with  more  truth  assert,  that  a  piece  of  Palladian 
architecture,  however  elegant — however  well  proportioned  its  parts — 
however  well  disposed  and  selected  its  ornaments — how  perfect  soever 
the  symmetry  of  the  whole,  yet,  in  the  mere  elevation,  or  placed  at 
the  top  of  a  lawn  naked  and  unaccompanied,  is  a  formal  object,  and 
excites  only  a  cold  admiration  of  the  architect's  ability — rbut  that  it 
becomes,  when  introduced  in  a  picture,  a  highly  interesting  object,  and 
universally  pleases.  I,  of  course,  mean  introduced  as  the  best  masters 
have  introduced  and  accompanied  such  buildings — for  there  can  be  no 
doubt  of  the  tendency  of  all  regular  architecture  to  formality. 

The  skill  with  which  that  formality  has  been  avoided  by  the  great 
painters,  without  destroying  smoothness  or  symmetry,  is,  perhaps,  one 
of  the  strongest  arguments  in  favour  of  studying  their  works  for  the 
purposes  of  improvement. 

On  the  subject  of  water,  I  have  again  the  misfortune  of  differing 
from  Mr.  Gilpin.  He  says,*  "  If  the  lake  be  spread  out  on  the  can- 
vass— and  in. this  case  it  cannot  be  different  in  nature — the  marmoreum 
wquor,  pure,  limpid,  smooth  as  the  polished  mirror,  we  acknowledge  it 
to  be  picturesque."  No  one,  I  believe,  will  be  singular  enough  to 
deny  that  a  lake  in  such  a  state  is  beautiful ;  and  such  I  am  persuaded 
must  always  be  its  prevailing  character,  though  many  picturesque  cir- 
cumstances should  be  found  in  the  scenery  around  it.  On  this  occasion 
I  must  beg  leave  to  quote  a  passage  from  Mr.  Locke,t  on  a  different 
subject,  indeed,  but  of  general  application.     "  These  passions — fear, 


*  Essay  on  Picturesque  Beauty,  page  22. 

-f-  On  the  Human  Understanding,  octavo  edit,  page  208. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


239 


anger,  shame,  envy,  &c. — are  scarce  any  of  them  simple  and  alone, 
and  wholly  unmixed  with  others,  though  usually,  in  discourse  and 
contemplation,  that  carries  the  name  which  operates  strongest,  and  ap- 
pears most  in  the  present  state  of  the  mind."  Now,  if  smoothness,  as 
Mr.  Gilpin  acknowledges,  be  at  least  a  considerable  source  of  beauty — 
and  if  roughness,  according  to  his  own  statement,  be  that  which  forms 
the  most  essential  point  of  difference  between  the  beautiful  and  the  pic- 
turesque, it  surely  is  rather  a  contradiction  to  his  own  principles  to 
call  a  lake  in  its  smoothest  state  picturesque,  on  account  of  such  inter- 
ruptions to  the  absolute  smoothness,  or  rather  uniformity  of  its  surface, 
as  not  only  accord  with  beauty,  but  are  often  in  themselves  sources  of 
beauty — such  as  shades  of  various  kinds,  undulations,  and  reflections. 

Upon  the  same  grounds  that  he  asserts  the  smooth  lake  to  be  pictu- 
resque, he  also  gives  that  character  to  the  high-fed  horse  with  his  smooth 
and  shining  coat.  If,  however,*  "a  play  of  muscles  appearing  through 
the  fineness  of  the  skin,  gently  swelling  and  sinking  into  each  other — 
his  being  all  over  lubricus  aspici,  with  reflections  of  light  continually 
shifting  upon  him,  and  playing  into  each  other,"  make  an  animal  pictu- 
resque, what  then  will  make  him  beautiful  ?  The  interruption  of  his 
smoothness,  by  a  variety  of  shades  and  colours,  not  sudden  and  strong, 
but  "  playing  into  each  other,  so  that  the  eye  glides  up  and  down  among 
their  endless  transitions,"  certainly  will  not  supply  the  room  of  rough- 
ness in  such  a  degree  as  to  overbalance  the  qualities  of  beauty,  and 
abolish,  as  in  the  present  instance,  the  very  name. 

It  is  true,  that  according  to  Mr.  Gilpin's  two  definitions,t  both  the 
lake  and  the  horse  in  their  smoothest  possible  state,  are  picturesque  ; 
but  they  are  no  less  opposite  to  that  character,  according  to  his  more 
strict  and  pointed  method  of  defining  it,  by  making  roughness  the  most 
essential  point  of  difference  between  it  and  the  beautiful.  After  so  plain 
and  natural  a  distinction  between  the  two  characters,  it  surely  would 
have  been  more  simple  and  satisfactory  to  have  named  things  according 
to  their  obvious  and  prevailing  qualities  ;  and  to  have  allowed  that 
painters  sometimes  preferred  beautiful,  sometimes  picturesque,  some- 
times grand  and  sublime  objects,  and  sometimes  objects  where  the  two 
or  the  three  characters,  were  equally,  or  in  different  degrees  mixed  with 
each  other. 

Many  of  the  examples  that  I  have  given  of  picturesque  animals,  are 
taken  from  Mr.  Gilpin's  very  ingenious  work  on  forest  scenery.  He 


*  Essay  on  Picturesque  Beauty,  page  22. 
•f  Vide,  pages  38  ami  39. 


240 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


tlicre  observes,  that  among  all  the  tribes  of  animals  scarce  any  one  is 
more  ornamental  in  landscape  than  the  ass.  lie  adds,  "  in  what  this 
picturesque  beauty  consists,  whether  in  his  peculiar  character,  in  his 
strong  lines,  in  his  colouring,  in  the  roughness  of  his  coat,  or  in  the  mix- 
ture of  them,  would  perhaps  be  difficult  to  ascertain."  When  I  read  this 
passage,  I  had  not  seen  the  Essay  on  Picturesque  Beauty,  and  it  gave 
me  great  satisfaction  to  find  my  ideas  of  the  causes  of  the  picturesque 
confirmed  by  so  attentive  an  observer  as  Mr.  Gilpin,  though  he  spoke 
doubtingly  ;  and  I  could  not  help  flattering  myself,  that  as  his  authority 
had  confirmed  me  in  my  ideas,  so,  by  tracing  them  through  a  greater 
variety  of  objects  than  his  subject  led  him  to  consider,  I  might  show 
the  justness  and  accuracy  of  his  suppositions.  Peculiarity  of  character, 
on  which  Mr.  Gilpin  very  properly  lays  a  stress,  naturally  arises  from 
strong  lines  and  sudden  variations ;  what  is  perfectly  smooth  and  flow- 
ing, has  proportionably  less  of  peculiar  character,  and  loses  in  pictures- 
queness  what  it  may  gain  in  beauty. 

This  leads  me  to  consider  a  part  of  Mr.  Gilpin's  Essay  on  Picturesque 
Beauty  that  appears  to  me  to  be  written  in  a  very  different  spirit  from 
the  last  mentioned  passage,  as  also  from  several  others  in  his  works, 
which  mark  the  true  character  and  cause  of  the  picturesque  in  a 
masterly  manner,  and  show  how  much  and  how  well  he  had  observed. 
If  the  criticism  I  am  going  to  make  be  just,  Mr.  Gilpin  has,  I  think, 
laid  himself  open  to  it  by  his  exclusive  fondness  for  the  picturesque, 
and  by  having  carried  to  excess  his  position,  that  roughness  is  that 
particular  -quality  which  makes  objects  chiefly  please  in  painting. 
From  his  partiality  to  this  doctrine,  he  ridicules  the  idea  of  having 
heauty  represented  in  a  picture,  and,  addressing  himself  to  the  person 
whom  he  supposes  to  make  so  unpainter-like  a  request,  he  says — "  The 
art  of  painting  allows  you  all  you  wish.  You  desire  to  have  a  beautiful 
object  painted — your  horse,  for  instance,  is  led  out  of  the  stable  in  all 
his  pampered  beauty ;  the  art  of  painting  is  ready  to  accommodate  you 
— you  have  the  beautiful  form  you  admired  in  nature  exactly  trans- 
ferred to  canvass ;  be  then  satisfied — the  art  of  painting  has  given  you 
what  you  wanted.  It  is  no  injury  to  the  beauty  of  your  Arabian,  if  the 
.  ainter  thinks  he  could  have  given  the  graces  of  his  art  more  forcibly 
to  your  cart  -horse."  ::' 

If  a  person  ignorant  of  the  art  of  painting  were  to  be  told,  that  a 
painter  who  wished  to  give  in  any  way  the  graces  of  his  art,  would 
prefer  a  cart-horse  to  an  Arabian,  he  would  be  apt  to  think  there  was 


Essay  on  Picturesque  Beauty. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


241 


something  very  preposterous,  both  in  the  art  and  the  artist ;  and  such 
must  always  be  the  consequence,  when,  instead  of  endeavouring  to 
show  the  agreement  between  art  and  nature,  even  when  they  appear 
most  at  variance,  a  mysterious  barrier  is  placed  between  them,  to  sur- 
prise and  keep  at  a  distance  the  uninitiated.  To  me  the  fact  seems  to 
be  what  we  might  naturally  suppose,  that  Rubeus,  Vandyke,  or  Wou- 
vermans,  when  they  wished  to  show  the  graces  of  their  art,  painted 
beautiful  horses — such  as  the  general  sense  of  mankind  would  call 
beautiful — gay,  pampered  steeds,  with  fine  coats,  and  high  in  flesh. 
When  they  added,  as  they  often  did,  a  greater  share  of  picturesqueness 
to  these  beautiful  animals,  it  was  not  by  degrading  them  to  cart-horses 
and  beasts  of  burden — it  was  by  means  of  sudden  and  spirited  action, 
with  such  a  correspondent  and  strongly  marked  exertion  of  muscles 
and  such  wild  disorder  in  the  mane,  as  might  heighten  the  freedom  and 
animation  of  their  character,  without  injuring  the  elegance  or  grandeur 
of  their  form.  If  by  giving  forcibly  the  graces  of  his  art,  nothing  fur- 
ther is  meant  than  giving  them  with  powerful  impression,  I  cannot 
help  thinking  that  Rubens,  when  he  was  transferring  from  nature  to 
the  canvass  one  of  these  noble  animals  in  all  the  fulness  and  luxuriancy 
of  beauty,  little  imagined  that  he  was  throwing  away  his  powers,  and 
as  little  suspected  that  any  of  the  rough  high-boned  cart-horses  he  had 
placed  in  scenes  with  which  they  accorded,  were  more  striking  speci- 
mens of  the  graces  of  his  art. 

It  would  indeed  be  a  wretched  degradation  of  the  art,  should  the 
horses  of  Raphael,  Giulio  Romano,  Polidore,  N.  Poussin,  the  forms 
and  characters  of  which  they  had  studied  with  almost  the  same  atten- 
tion as  those  of  the  human  figure ;  in  which,  too,  as  in  the  human 
figure,  they  had  corrected  the  defects  of  common  nature  from  their  own 
exalted  ideas  of  beauty,  and  from  those  of  their  great  models,  the 
ancient  sculptors,  and  in  which  they  certainly  meant  to  display,  and 
not  feebly,  the  graces  of  their  art — should  such  ennobled  animals  be 
thought  less  adapted  to  display  those  graces,  than  a  jade  of  Berchem 
or  Paul  Potter. 

The  next  and  last  point  of  difference  between  us,  is  with  respect  to 
the  plumage  of  birds.  Mr.  Gilpin  thinks  the  result  of  plumage,  for  he 
makes  no  exception,  is  picturesque  ;  and  the  whole  seems  to  me  another 
striking  instance  of  his  exclusive  fondness  for  that  character,  and  of  his 
unwillingness  on  that  account  to  allow  any  beauty  or  merit  to  smooth- 
ness. Indeed,  as  he  supposes  the  picturesque  solely  to  refer  to  paint- 
ing, and  that  pictures  can  scarcely  admit  of  any  objects  which  are  not 
of  that  character,  and  as  he  also  allows  (or  rather  asserts)  that  rough- 

Q 


242 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


ness  is  its  distinguishing  quality,  it  became  necessary  either  to  allow 
that  an  object  might  be  picturesque  without  being  rough,  which  would 
contradict  his  assertion,  or  to  show  that  there  were  other  qualities  which 
would  render  it  so  in  spite  of  its  smoothness ;  or,  to  use  his  own  ex- 
pression, would  supply  the  room  of  roughness. 

Speaking  of  the  plumage  of  birds,*  "  nothing,"  he  says,  "  can  be 
softer,  nothing  smoother  to  the  touch ;  yet  it  certainly  is  picturesque." 
He  then  observes,  "  it  is  not  the  smoothness  of  the  surface  which  pro- 
duces the  effect — it  is  not  this  we  admire — it  is  the  breaking  of  the 
colours — it  is  the  bright  green  or  purple,  changing  perhaps  into  a  rich 
azure  or  velvet  black ;  from  thence  taking  a  semi-tint,  and  soon  through 
all  the  varieties  of  colours  ;  or  if  the  colour  be  not  changeable,  it  is  the 
harmony  we  admire  in  these  elegant  little  touches  of  nature's  pencil." 

It  is  singular  that  the  colours  of  birds,  and  particularly  those  of  a 
changeable  kind,  from  which  Mr,  Burke  has  taken  some  of  his  happiest 
illustrations  of  the  beautiful,  should,  by  Mr.  Gilpin,  not  only  be  cited 
as  sources  of  the  picturesque,  but  as  so  abounding  in  that  quality  as  to 
bestow  on  smoothness  the  effect  of  roughness.  He  has  laid  it  down  as 
a  maxim,  that  a  smooth  building  must  be  turned  into  a  rough  one 
before  it  can  be  picturesque  ;  yet,  in  this  instance,  a  smooth  bird  may 
be  made  so  by  means  of  colours,  many  of  which,  with  their  gradations 
and  changes,  are  universally  acknowledged  and  admired  as  beautiful. 

I  cannot  help  repeating  the  same  question  on  this  subject  as  on  the 
preceding  one ;  if  beautiful  and  changeable  colours  with  their  grada- 
tions, added  to  softness  and  smoothness  of  plumage,  and  to  the  har- 
mony of  the  elegant  little  touches  of  nature's  pencil,  make  birds  pic- 
turesque, what  then  are  the  qualities  which  make  them  beautiful  ? 

But  Mr.  Gilpin  himself  has  furnished  me  with  the  strongest  proof 
how  natural  it  is  for  all  men,  when  they  design  to  produce  a  picturesque 
image,  to  avoid  all  idea  of  smoothness.  He  has  quoted  Pindar's  cele- 
brated description  of  the  eagle,  as  equally  poetical  and  picturesque;  and 
such  I  believe  it  always  has  been  thought.  The  ruffled  plumage  of  the 
eagle,  which  Mr.  Gilpin  has  put  in  italics,  as  the  circumstance  which 
most  strongly  marks  that  character,  is  both  in  Mr.  West's  translation, 
and  Mr.  Gray's  imitation  ;  but  as  far  as  I  can  judge,  there  is  not  the 
least  trace  of  it  in  the  original.  I  have  not  the  most  distant  preten- 
sions to  any  critical  knowledge  of  the  Greek  language ;  yet  still  I 
think,  that  by  the  help  of  those  interpreters  who  have  studied  it  criti- 


*  Essay  on  Picturesque  Beauty,  page  2?>. 


ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 


243 


cally,  an  unlearned  man,  if  he  feels  the  spirit  of  a  passage,  may  arrive 
at  a  pretty  accurate  idea  of  the  force  of  the  expressions.  From  them  it 
appears  to  me,  that  far  from  describing  the  eagle  with  ruffled  plumes, 
or  with  any  circumstance  truly  picturesque,  Pindar  has,  on  the  con- 
trary, avoided  every  idea  that  might  disturb  the  repose  and  majestic 
beauty  of  his  image.  After  he  has  described  the  eagle's  flagging  wing, 
he  adds,  "  vygov  vwrov  aiooost"  which  is  so  opposite  to  ruffled,  that  it 
seems  to  signify  that  perfect  smoothness  and  sleekness  given  by 
moisture  ;  that  oily  suppleness  so  different  from  any  thing  crisp  or 
rumpled ;  as  vygov  sXaiov  expresses  the  smooth,  suppling,  undrying 
quality  of  oil.  The  learned  Christianus  Damm  interprets  xvcatrcuv  vygov 
vwrov  a/w£2/,  dormiens  incurvatum  (vel  potius  Iceve)  tergum  attollit;  and 
the  action  is  that  of  a  gentle  heaving  from  respiration  during  a  quiet 
repose.  In  another  place  Damm  interprets  uy  goring,  mollities ;  all 
equally  opposite  to  ruffled.  Indeed,  we  might  almost  suppose  that 
Pindar,  having  intended  to  present  an  image  both  sublime  and  beautiful, 
had  avoided  every  thing  that  might  disturb  its  still  and  solemn  grandeur; 
for  he  has  thrown,  as  it  were,  into  shade,  the  most  marked  and  pic- 
turesque feature  of  that  noble  bird :  xsXa/vwr/c  6'  iiri  bi  vi<pzkav  ayxuXaj 
xgar/,  fiXzpaouv  ahv  7tkai<sr^ov^  xare^euag ;  a  feature  which  Homer,  in  a 
simile  full  of  action  and  picturesque  imagery,  has  placed  in  its  fullest 
light : 

"  'O/  V  uaT  aiywrioi  ya/jL^uvv^i;,  xyxvko%ii\ctif 

Having  been  bold  enough  to  criticise  both  the  translation  and  imita- 
tion of  Pindar,  I  shall  venture  one  step  further,  and  try  to  account  for 
the  passages  having  been  so  rendered.  I  think  Mr.  West  and  Mr. 
Gray  might  probably  have  been  impressed  with  the  same  idea  as  Mr. 
Gilpin,  that  the  imagery  in  this  passage  was  highly  picturesque,  but 
might  have  felt  that  smooth  feathers  would  not  accord  with  that  cha- 
racter ;  and,  therefore,  perhaps,  (as  Sir  Joshua  Reynolds  observes  on 
Algarotti's  ill-founded  eulogium  of  a  picture  of  Titian)  they  chose  to 
find  in  Pindar,  what  they  thought  they  ought  to  have  found.  With 
all  the  respect  I  have  for  their  abilities,  (and  Mr.  Gray's  cannot  be 
rated  too  high,)  I  must  think  that  by  one  word  they  have  changed  the 
character  of  that  famous  passage  ;  and  it  may  be  doubted  whether  they 
have  improved  it. 

Were  the  image  which  they  have  substituted  represented  in  painting, 
it  might  be  more  striking,  more  catching  to  the  eye  than  Pindar's ;  and 
that  is  the  true  character  of  the  picturesque  :  but  his  would  have  more 
of  that  repose,  that  solemn  breadth,  that  freedom  from  all  bustle,  which 


244  SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE  ON  THE  PICTURESQUE. 

I  believe  .accords  more  truly  with  the  genuine  unmixed  characters  both 
of  beauty  and  sublimity,'"'  and  with  the  ideas  of  the  great  original. 

I  have  pressed  strongly  on  all  the  points  of  difference  between  Mr. 
Gilpin  and  me,  because  I  think  them  very  essential  to  the  chief  object 
I  have  had  in  view — that  of  recommending  the  study  of  pictures  and  of 
the  principles  of  painting,  as  the  best  guide  to  that  of  nature,  and  to 
the  improvement  of  real  landscape.  Could  it  be  supposed  that  for  the 
purpose  of  his  own  art,  a  painter  would  in  general  prefer  a  worn-out 
cart-horse  to  a  beautiful  Arabian ;  or  that  such  pieces  of  architecture  as 
were  universally  admired  for  their  beauty  and  elegance,  would,  if  intro- 
duced in  a  picture,  become  formal,  and  cease  to  please — no  man  would 
be  disposed  to  consult  an  art  which  contradicted  all  his  natural  feelings. 
But  were  lie  to  be  informed  that  painters  have  always  admired  and 
copied  beauty  of  every  kind,  (and  strange  it  would  be  were  it  other- 
wise) in  animals,  as  well  as  in  the  human  species,  that  they  neither 
reject  smoothness  nor  symmetry,  but  only  the  ill-judged  and  tiresome 
display  of  them  ;  that  with  regard  to  regular  and  perfect  architecture, 
it  made  a  principal  ornament  in  pictures  of  the  highest  class,  but  that 
while  its  smoothness,  symmetry,  and  regularity  were  preserved,  its 
formality  was  avoided ;  in  short,  that  the  study  of  painting,  far  from 
abridging  his  pleasures,  would  open  a  variety  of  new  sources  of  amuse- 
ment, and  without  cutting  off  any  of  those  which  he  already  possessed, 
would  only  direct  them  into  better  channels — he  might  be  disposed  to 
consult  an  art,  which  promised  many  fresh  and  untasted  delights,  with- 
out forcing  him  to  abandon  all  tlvose  which  he  had  enjoyed  before. 


*  Vide  Sir  Joshua  RevnoldVs  Notes  in  Mason's  du  Fresnof,  p.  86. 


ESSAYS 

ON 

ARTIFICIAL  WATER,  ON  DECORATIONS, 

AND  ON 

ARCHITECTURE  AND  BUILDINGS. 


PREFACE. 


The  three  Essays  which  I  here  offer  to  the  public,  though  detached 
from  each  other  and  from  the  Essay  on  the  Picturesque,  are,  in  respect 
to  the  matter  they  contain,  and  the  suite  of  ideas  they  present,  perfectly 
connected.  In  all  that  I  have  written,  I  have  had  two  chief  purposes 
in  view — the  one,  to  point  out  the  best  method  of  forming  our  taste 
and  judgment  in  regard  to  the  effect  of  all  visible  objects,  universally  ; 
the  other,  to  show  in  what  manner  the  principles  so  acquired  may  be 
applied  to  the  improvement  of  those  particular  objects  with  which  each 
man  is  individually  concerned. 

The  first  step  towards  acquiring  an  exact  taste  and  judgment  in  re- 
spect to  visible  objects,  is  to  gain  an  accurate  knowledge  of  their  lead- 
ing characters ; — I,  therefore,  in  my  first  Essay,  traced  the  character  of 
the  Picturesque,  its  qualities,  effects,  and  attractions,  as  distinct  from 
those  of  the  Sublime  and  Beautiful,  through  the  different  works  of 
nature  and  art. 

The  next  step  was  to  show,  that  not  only  the  effect  of  picturesque 
objects,  but  of  all  visible  objects  whatever,  are  to  be  judged  of  by  the 
great  leading  principles  of  Painting — which  principles,  though  they  are 
really  founded  in  nature,  and  totally  independent  of  art,  are,  however, 
most  easily  and  usefully  studied  in  the  pictures  of  eminent  painters. 
On  these  two  points,  which,  I  trust,  I  have  never  lost  sight  of  in  any 
part  of  my  work,  rests  the  whole  force  of  my  argument.  If  I  have 
succeeded  in  establishing  them,  the  system  of  modern  Gardening. 


248 


PREFACE. 


which,  besides  banishing  all  picturesque  effects,  has  violated  every 
principle  of  painting,  is  of  course  demolished. 

All  such  abstract  reasoning,  however,  makes  but  a  slight  impression 
unless  it  be  applied.  I  therefore  took  examples  from  the  works  of  the 
most  celebrated  layer-out  of  grounds,  Mr.  Brown,  and  examined  them, 
and  his  whole  system  and  practice,  by  the  principles  which  I  had  be- 
fore explained.  It  has  been  mentioned  as  an  objection,  that  Mr.  Ha- 
milton and  Mr.  Shenstone  are  in  reality  the  most  celebrated  for  their 
skill  in  laying  out  grounds,  and,  therefore,  Painshill  and  the  Leasowes 
are  the  true  examples  of  the  taste  of  English  Gardening.  The  ac- 
knowledged superiority  of  men  of  liberal  education  who  embellished 
their  own  places,  is  strongly  in  favour  of  the  whole  of  my  argument — 
but  has  nothing  to  do  with  the  objection.  Poussin  and  Le  Sueur  were 
models  of  simplicity,  and  were  the  two  most  celebrated  painters  of  their 
country — but,  would  it  be  right  on  that  account  to  say  that  Simplicity 
was  the  characteristic  of  the  French  school  ?  They  were  in  painting 
what  Mr.  Hamilton  and  Mr.  Shenstone  were  in  gardening — exceptions 
to  the  national  taste,  not  examples  of  it. 

The  censure  of  modern  Gardening  and  Mr.  Brown,  drew  upon  me 
an  attack  from  the  most  eminent  professor  of  the  present  time,  together 
with  a  defence  of  his  predecessor.  Nothing  could  be  more  fortunate 
than  such  an  opportunity,  for  discussing  the  practicability  of  what  I  had 
proposed,  with  a  practical  improver  of  high  reputation  ;  as,  likewise, 
of  explaining  and  applying  to  particular  parts  of  improvement,  many 
positions  in' my  first  work. 

Yet  still,  notwithstanding  the  degree  of  practical  discussion  in  that 
letter,  it  might  be  said,  even  by  those  who  are  most  partial  to  my 
ideas  on  the  subject,  "  it  is  true  that  you  have  shown  the  tameness  and 
monotony  of  Mr.  Brown's  made-water  and  regularly  sloped  banks,  and 
the  superior  beauty  and  variety  of  those  in  natural  lakes  and  rivers ; 
but  by  what  means  can  these  last  be  imitated  ?  how  can  those  number- 
less varieties,  which  often  owe  their  charms  to  a  certain  artless  and 
negligent  appearance,  be  produced  by  the  dull  mechanical  oj>erations 
of  common  labourers  ?  If  you  would  have  us  quit  the  present  style, 
show  us  some  method  of  practical  improvement  which  may  be  acted 
upon."  This  is  what  I  have  attempted  in  the  first  of  these  three  Es- 
says ;  and  the  detail,  which,  from  the  novelty  of  the  plan,  I  have  been 
obliged  to  enter  into,  must  be  my  excuse  for  its  length.  I  must,  how- 
ever, observe,  that  the  subject  is  much  more  comprehensive  than  the 
title  announces  :  the  discussion  is  not  confined  to  the  banks  of  made- 


PREFACE. 


240 


water,  nor  even  to  those  of  natural  rivers  and  lakes,  but  is  exte  n  ed  to 
all  the  natural  beauties  and  varieties  of  objects  near  the  eye,  which 
therefore  are  classed  by  painters  under  the  title  of  foreground.  All, 
who  are  in  any  degree  conversant  with  the  art  of  painting,  know  of 
what  consequence  foregrounds  are  in  pictures — how  interesting  they 
are  in  themselves,  and  what  influence  they  have  on  the  effect  of  the 
whole.  If  they  be  of  such  consequence  to  the  painter,  they  are  of  still 
greater  importance  to  the  improver.  The  painter  can  command  the 
other  parts  of  his  picture  equally  with  the  foreground — can  alter,  or 
new  model  them  as  he  likes ;  but  the  foreground,  in  its  more  extended 
sense,  or  at  most  the  middle  distance,  is  all  that  is  under  the  control  of 
the  improver.  In  this  Essay  I  have  followed  the  example  of  painters. 
I  have  bestowed  particular  pains  on  what  is  to  be  viewed  close  to  the 
eye,  and  have  worked  it  up  more  distinctly,  and  with  greater  minute- 
ness of  detail — in  the  hope  that  I  may  induce  improvers  to  follow  the 
same  example  in  real  scenery. 

But,  besides  these  foregrounds,  of  which  the  models  are  in  nature, 
there  are  others  manifestly  and  avowedly  artificial ;  which,  however, 
on  that  account,  are  the  best  suited  to  artificial  objects,  and  indeed  the 
only  foregrounds  strictly  in  character  with  them.  I  have,  therefore, 
in  the  second  Essay,  examined  the  character  of  the  old  Italian  Gardens, 
and  the  principles  on  which,  as  I  conceive,  their  excellence  is  founded. 
I  have  compared  them  with  modern  gardens,  and  have  stated  what 
appear  to  me  their  respective  merits  and  defects,  the  situation  in  which 
each  is  most  proper,  and  the  sort  of  alliance  that  might  be  made 
between  them. 

From  the  Decorations  near  the  House,  the  transition  was  very 
natural  to  the  house  itself,  and  to  buildings  in  general.  In  the  third 
Essay,  therefore,  I  have  considered  the  character  of  Architecture  and 
Buildings  as  connected  with  the  scenery  in  which  they  are  placed.  In 
pursuing  this  inquiry,  I  have  taken  my  arguments  and  illustrations 
from  the  works  of  eminent  painters  ;  examining  the  style  of  architecture 
and  of  buildings  in  their  pictures,  from  the  temples  and  palaces  in  those 
of  the  higher  schools,  to  the  cottages,  mills,  and  hovels  of  the  Dutch 
masters,  and  applying  the  principles  of  the  three  leading  characters 
discussed  in  my  first  Essay,  to  this  particular  subject — of  all  others  the 
most  calculated  to  show  their  perfect  distinction. 

There  are  persons  for  whose  opinion  I  have  a  very  high  respect,  who, 
though  they  agree  with  me  in  the  distinct  character  of  the  Picturesque, 
object  to  the  term  itself,  on  the  ground  that,  from  its  manifest  etymo- 


250 


PREFACE. 


logy,  it  must  signify  all  that  can  be  represented  in  pictures  with  effect. 
I  had  flattered  myself  with  having  shown,  that,  according  to  that  defini- 
tion, the  word  can  hardly  be  said  to  have  a  distinct  appropriate  mean- 
ing ;  by  placing  this  matter  in  a  different,  possibly  in  a  more  convincing 
light,  I  may  be  lucky  enough  to  obviate  their  only  objection.  It  has 
occurred  to  me  that  the  term  (which  is  in  effect  the  same  in  English, 
French,  and  Italian,)  may  possibly  have  been  invented  by  painters  to 
express  a  quality,  not  merely  essential  to  their  art,  but  in  a  manner 
peculiar  to  it :  the  treasures  of  the  sublime  and  the  beautiful,  it  shares  in 
common  with  Sculpture  ;  but  the  Picturesque  is  almost  exclusively  its 
own.  A  writer  of  eminence  lays  great  stress  on  the  advantage  which 
painting  possesses  over  Sculpture,  in  being  able  to  give  value  to  insignifi- 
cant objects,  and  even  to  those  which  are  offensive.  Many  such  objects 
are  highly  picturesque  in  spite  of  their  offensive  qualities,  and  in  a 
degree  that  has  sometimes  caused  it  to  be  imagined,  that  they  were 
rendered  so  by  means  of  them.  I  remember  a  picture  of  Wouvermans, 
in  which  the  principal  objects  were  a  dung-cart  just  loaded,  some 
carrion  lying  on  the  dung,  a  dirty  fellow  with  a  dirty  shovel,  the 
dunghill  itself,  and  a  dog,  that  from  his  attitude  seemed  likely  to  add 
to  it.  These  most  unsavoury  materials  the  painter  had  worked  up  with 
so  much  skill,  that  the  picture  was  viewed  by  every  one  with  delight. 
Imagine  all  this  in  marble  ever  so  skillfully  executed — it  would  be  de- 
testable. This  certainly  does  tend  to  prove,  that  sculpture  cannot 
represent  with  effect,  objects  merely  picturesque.  I  do  not  mean  to 
say,  that  the  grave  dignity  of  that  noble  art  does  not  admit  of  a  mixture 
of  the  picturesque ;  it  is  clear,  however,  that  the  ancients  admitted  it 
with  a  caution  bordering  upon  timidity.  The  modern  sculptors,  on  the 
other  hand,  have  perhaps  gone  as  much  into  the  other  extreme ;  and  to 
that  we  probably  owe  the  magnificent  defects  of  Michael  Angelo,  the 
affectations  of  Bernini,  and  the  pantomimes  of  some  of  his  followers.  It 
appears  to  me,  that  if  the  whole  of  this  be  considered,  it  completely 
takes  away  every  objection  to  my  use  of  the  term ;  for  if  what  I  have 
stated  be  just,  it  shows  that  by  Picturesque  is  meant,  not  all  that  can  be 
expressed  with  effect  in  painting,  but  that  which  painting  can,  and 
sculpture  cannot  express.  This,  in  reality,  forms  a  very  just  distinction 
between  the  powers  of  the  only  two  arts  imitative  of  visible  objects ; 
and  the  etymology  of  the  word,  as  I  have  accounted  for  it,  instead  of 
contradicting,  sanctions  the  use  I  have  made  of  it,  and  the  distinction 
I  have  given  to  the  character. 

The  subject  of  modern  Gardening  had  been  so  fully  discussed  in  my 


PREFACE. 


251 


first  Essay,  and  in  my  Letter  to  Mr.  Repton,  that  little  remained  to  be 
said.  In  this  second  volume,  therefore,  I  have  seldom  done  more  than 
make  some  occasional  remarks  upon  it.  It  may,  indeed,  be  thought  by 
many,  that  I  had  already  bestowed  more  time  upon  it,  than  a  particular 
mode  of  gardening  in  this  country  would  justify.  On  this  not  impro- 
bable supposition,  I  must  say  in  my  defence,  and  in  some  measure  in 
defence  of  English  gardening,  that  the  present  style  of  laying  out  places 
is  not  a  mere  capricious  invention,  but  a  consistent  and  regular  system, 
founded  on  the  most  seducing  qualities  ;  and  such  as  are  likely  to 
operate  in  every  age  and  country,  where  extensive  improvement  in 
grounds  may  become  an  object  of  attention — on  smoothness,  continuity 
of  surface,  undulation,  serpentine  lines,  and,  also,  what  is  peculiarly 
flattering  to  the  vanity  of  the  owner — distinctness.  The  whole  purpose 
of  my  work  has  been  to  show — not  that  these  qualities  are  by  any 
means  to  be  abandoned  or  neglected,  but  that  there  are  striking  effects 
and  attractions  in  those  of  a  totally  opposite  nature ;  and  that  they  must 
be  mixed  with  each  other  in  various  degrees,  in  order  to  produce  that 
beauty  of  combination,  which  is  displayed  in  the  choicest  works  of  art 
and  of  nature. 

Such  a  mixture  so  sanctioned,  appears  to  have  such  obvious  and 
superior  claims  over  any  narrow  system  of  exclusion,  that  it  is  hard  to 
conceive  how  a  system  of  that  kind  could  long  prevail  among  men  of 
liberal  and  highly  cultivated  minds  ;  yet  no  one  can  doubt  the  fact, 
who  considers  the  almost  universal  admiration  with  which  the  exclusive 
display  of  smoothness,  serpentine  lines,  &c.  in  our  gardens  and  grounds 
has  been  viewed  for  more  than  half  a  century.  I  believe,  indeed,  that 
there  are  scarcely  any  bounds  to  the  sort  of  idolatry  which  prevailed, 
and  still  prevails  on  that  subject.  English  gardening  has  been  consid- 
ered as  an  object  of  high  and  peculiar  national  pride ;  it  has  been  cele- 
brated, together  with  its  chief  professor,  by  some  of  the  most  eminent 
writers  of  this  age,  in  prose  and  in  verse  ;  and  marbles  with  inscriptions, 
have  been  erected  to  the  memory  of  Mr.  Brown  and  his  works.  Such, 
indeed,  is  the  enthusiasm  of  his  admirers,  that  many  of  them,  I  am 
persuaded,  would  not  only  approve  of  his  system  being  extended  over 
another  quarter  of  the  globe,  but  would  wish,  that  "  the  great  globe 
itself"  could  be  new  modelled  upon  that  system;  and  be  made  in  every 
part,  like  one  of  his  dressed  places.  Could  their  wish  be  carried  into 
effect,  there  would  really  be  a  very  curious  similarity  between  Mr. 
Brown's  finished  state  of  the  world,  and  the  world  in  a  state  of  chaos, 
as  described  by  the  poet — 

"  Unus  erat  toto  naturae  vultus  in  orbe." 


PREFACE, 


The  late  Mr.  Owen  Cambridge  very  pleasantly  laughed  at  Brown's; 
vanity,  by  assigning  him  a  higher  sphere  for  his  operations  than  any  of 
those  I  have  mentioned.  lie  was  vapouring  one  day,  as  Mr.  Cambridge 
himself  told  me,  about  the  change  he  had  made  in  the  face  of  the  country, 
and  his  hope  of  seeing  his  plans  much  more  generally  extended  before 
he  died.  Mr.  Cambridge  with  great  gravity  said,  "  Mr.  Brown,  I  very 
earnestly  wish  that  I  may  die  before  you." — "  Why  so  ?  "  said  Brown, 
with  great  surprise.  "  Because,"  said  he,  "  I  should  like  to  see  heaven 
before  you  had  improved  it." 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER,  &c. 


It  might  very  plausibly  be  argued  in  defence  of  Mr.  Brown  and  his 
followers,  that  however  easy  it  may  appear  in  theory  to  make  an  arti- 
ficial piece  of  water  look  like  a  natural  lake  or  river,  and  to  give  it  such 
effects  as  would  please  the  eye  of  a  painter,  it  would  by  no  means  be 
easy  in  practice.  That  the  mode  of  proceeding  in  the  two  arts,  (sup- 
posing the  end  to  be  the  same,)  is  very  different,  as  the  painter  executes 
his  own  ideas,  while  the  improver  must  trust  to  the  hands  of  common 
labourers  ;  on  which  account,  a  regular  and  determined  form  must  be 
given,  the  lines  staked  out  with  precision,  and  the  levels  taken  with 
the  same  regularity  and  exactness.  This  I  allow  to  be  a  real  difference 
between  the  two  arts,  and  a  real  difficulty  in  that  of  gardening.  But 
if  difficulties  were  always  to  stop  the  progress  of  art,  and  if  the  most 
obvious  and  mechanical  system  of  operation  were  always  to  be  adopted — 
because  it  would  be  the  easiest,  because  it  would  require  no  invention 
to  plan,  nor  taste  to  direct  it — all  arts  would  be  reduced  to  trades  ;  for 
that  which  makes  the  distinction  between  them  would  no  longer  exist. 
With  regard  to  Artificial  Water,  whenever  those  circumstances  which 


254 


SIR  UVEDALK  PRICE 


can  give  it  variety  and  effect  shall  studiously  be  preserved,  I  shall  think 
highly  of  the  taste  and  judgment  of  the  professor ;  and  should  I  ever 
see  those  circumstances  created,  I  shall  then  be  proud  of  English  gar- 
dening. I  shall  then  say  that  an  artist,  who  could  execute  such  a  work 
by  means  of  mechanical  hands,  not  only  had  taste,  but  genius  and  in- 
vention, and  that  it  seemed  as  if  his  spirit,  like  Hotspur's,  had 

"  Lent  a  fire 
E'en  to  the  dullest  peasant." 

I  am  well  aware,  however,  not  only  of  the  intrinsic  difficulty  of  point- 
ing out  from  theory  what  is  likely  to  succeed  in  practice,  but  also  of 
the  cavils  and  objections  which  may  be  raised  against  every  part  of 
such  an  innovation,  by  those  who  are  wedded  to  the  old  system ;  for  I 
am  not  sanguine  enough  to  expect,  that  what  I  am  now  risking  in  the  hope 
of  promoting  the  real  improvement  of  real  landscapes,  will  be  received 
by  them  with  candour,  or  that  any  allowances  will  be  made  in  favour 
of  the  intention.  On  the  contrary,  I  know  that  it  will  be  looked  upon 
as  a  fresh  invasion  of  the  realms  of  perpetual  smoothness  and  mono- 
tony— an  invasion  which  should  be  repelled  by  every  kind  of  weapon. 

I  will  begin  by  observing,  that  in  order  to  gain  a  just  idea  of  the 
manner  in  which  we  ought  to  form  the  banks  of  artificial  pieces  of  water, 
the  first  inquiry  should  be,  how  those  of  natural  lakes  and  rivers  are 
formed ;  for  I  of  course  suppose,  that  the  most  admired  parts  of  them 
are  the  proper  objects  of  imitation.  This  is  an  inquiry  which  I  believe 
has  never  been  made  with  that  view,  and  which  I  imagine  will  throw 
great  light  upon  the  whole  subject. 

It  has  been  asked,  indeed,  by  way  of  ridiculing  the  effect  of  time  and 
accident  in  producing  those  circumstances  which  are  generally  called 
picturesque,  u  whether  nature*  is  a  more  pleasing  object  in  a  dwindled 
and  shrivelled  condition,  than  when  her  vigour  4  is  as  great,  her  beauty 
as  fresh,  and  her  looks  as  charming,  as  if  she  newly  came  out  of  the  form- 
ing hands  of  her  Creator?'"  I  do  not  know  in  what  manner  Lord  Shaftes- 
bury, from  whom  the  latter  part  of  this  passage  is  taken,  may  have  ap- 
plied it,  but  as  it  has  been  made  use  of  by  Mr.  G.  Mason,  it  seems  to 
mean — if  it  mean  anything — that  pieces  of  artificial  water,  as  they 
have  generally  been  made,  of  one  equal  verdure  and  smoothness,  look 
as  if  they  were  the  immediate  productions  of  the  Creator  ;  while 
natural  lakes  and  rivers,  the  banks  of  which  must  always  be  partially 
worn  and  broken,  show  nature  in  a  dwindled  and  shrivelled  condition. 


*  Essay  on  Design  in  Gardening,  page  204. 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


255 


How  this  earth  did  look  when  it  was  first  created,  or  how  nature 
then  performed  her  operations,  it  would  be  as  useless  as  it  is  impossible  to 
know.  All  we  are  concerned  in,  is  the  present  appearance  of  things, 
and  her  present  operations — the  constant  tendency  of  which,  so  opposite 
to  the  supposed  improvements  of  art,  is  to  banish,  not  to  create  mono- 
tony ;  and  we  really  might  as  well  reason  on  a  supposed  state  of  the 
moon,  as  on  any  supposed  state  of  the  earth  when  it  was  first  created. 
What  we  can  reason  upon,  and  what  can  alone  be  in  any  degree  to  the 
purpose,  is  the  progressive  state  of  nature  which  we  now  observe,  and 
which  to  us  is  creation.  The  most  rational  way,  therefore,  of  imitating 
those  happy  effects,  which  we  most  admire  in  nature,  is  to  observe  the 
manner  in  which  she  progressively  creates  them,  and  instead  of  pre- 
scribing to  her  a  set  form,  from  which  she  must  not  presume  to  vary, 
we  ought  so  to  prepare  every  thing  that  her  efforts  may  point  out,  what, 
without  such  indications,  we  never  can  suggest  to  ourselves.  On  this 
most  material  point,  which  I  shall  afterwards  endeavour  more  fully 
and  distinctly  to  explain,  the  true  method  of  imitating  nature  is 
founded ;  and  to  the  total  neglect  of  it,  or  rather  to  the  most  deter- 
mined aversion  to  such  a  mode  of  imitation,  the  tameness,  monotony, 
and,  I  may  add,  unnaturalness  of  modern  gardening  must  be  attributed  ; 
for  those  higher  degrees  of  smoothing  and  polishing,  which,  when  used 
with  judgment  and  confined  to  their  proper  limits,  have  so  pleasing  and 
dressed  an  appearance,  have  been  made,  I  might  almost  say,  the  pre- 
paration for  improvement,  as  well  as  the  final  object  of  it. 

It  can  hardly  be  necessary  to  say,  that  I  am  here  considering  every 
thing  merely  in  a  picturesque  light  ;  and  that  I  am  not  recommending 
to  those,  who  think  only  of  profit  and  convenience,  to  encourage  the 
effects  of  accident ; — they  will,  with  equal  reason,  no  less  studiously 
guard  against  them. 


Ql)  G  SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 

As  all  artificial  pieces  of  water  must  be  stagnant,  it  seems  to  me  that 
the  circumstances  which  relate  to  the  formation  of  what  may  be  called 
accidental  pieces  of  stagnant  water,  should  more  principally  be  attended 
to,  than  those  which  relate  to  rivers. 

It  often  happens  that  large  pieces  of  water  are  made  for  the  use  of 
mills  or  forges,  by  floating  a  valley  ;  where,  as  they  are  not  intended 
for  ornament,  the  banks  arc  left  in  their  original  state.  These,  though 
not  accidental,  may  be  considered  in  the  same  light.  The  only  opposi- 
tion is  between  natural  banks,  and  those  where  art  has  interfered. 

Upon  the  great  and  inimitable  scale  of  nature,  lakes  are  formed  by 
many  proportionate  causes.  As,  for  example,  when  the  crater  of  a 
volcano  sinks  down — when  a  chasm  remains  after  an  earthquake — or 
when  part  of  a  mountain,  falling  across  the  bed  of  a  river,  creates  a 
natural  dam  ;  one  instance  of  which  I  heard  from  a  person  who  had 
been  an  eyewitness  of  the  progressive  effect,  soon  after  the  tremendous 
cause  had  taken  place.  This  might,  without  impropriety,  be  called  the 
creation  of  a  lake ;  for  the  only  way  in  which  the  nature  we  are  ac- 
quainted with  does  create  them,  is  by  some  such  accident  as  I  have 
mentioned. 

Artificial  pieces  of  water  must  be  formed  by  means  of  a  head,  of 
digging,  or  of  both.  The  most  beautiful,  whatever  be  their  size,  will  of 
course  be  those  where  digging  is  unnecessary — where  the  surrounding 
ground  is  of  a  varied  character,  and  is  indented  with  bays  and  in- 
lets variously  accompanied.  If  such  a  basin  be  ready  to  receive  an 
artificial  lake,  the  improver  has  little  difficulty  about  the  form  of  his 
banks ;  for  the  water,  by  insinuating  itself  into  every  creek  and  bay, 
by  winding  round  each  promontory,  under  the  projecting  boughs,  and 
the  steep  broken  ground,  by  lying  against  the  soft  verdure,  and  upon 
the  stony  or  gravelly  beach,  will  mark  all  the  characters  of  the  shore, 
as  it  will  likewise  mark  its  different  heights,  by  a  comparison  with  its 
own  level.  But  where  all  is  to  be  done  by  the  spade,  and  the  whole 
of  the  banks  to  be  newly  formed,  the  task  is  very  different ;  and  here 
it  will  be  the  proper  place  to  inquire,  by  what  means  the  varieties  in 
the  banks  of  natural  lakes  are  produced.  I  of  course  suppose,  that  the 
improver  would  wish  to  have  many  of  those  varieties,  provided  they 
could  be  introduced  without  appearing  crowded  or  affected,  and  without 
injuring  unity  of  effect  and  of  character ;  for  if  he  be  content  with  the 
unity  of  monotony,  he  cannot  do  better  than  take  Mr.  Brown  for  his 
guide. 

I  think  the  best  method  of  stating  this  matter  clearly,  will  be  to  show 
in  what  manner  those  natural  lakes,  of  which  the  general  form  is  pleas- 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


257 


ing,  but  which  want  those  varieties  I  have  been  speaking  of,  might, 
from  natural  causes,  have  acquired  them  ;  and  then  to  show  how  art 
may  so  prepare  the  ground  as  to  give  a  kind  of  guidance  and  direction 
to  the  operations  of  nature.  It  is  easy  to  conceive  some  natural  lakes, 
in  which,  though  the  shape  of  the  ground  and  the  turns  of  the  water 
might,  from  their  winding  and  undulation,  be  extremely  pleasing,  yet 
the  monotony  would  be  very  great ;  as,  for  instance,  among  bare  downs, 
or  close-bitten  sheep-walks — for  where  the  soil  and  turf  are  firm,  the 
descent  gentle  and  uniform,  so  that  the  rain-water,  from  its  spreading 
easily  over  the  general  surface,  does  not  produce  any  breaks  or  gullies 
— the  monotony  would  arise,  from  what,  in  many  points  of  view,  might 
very  justly  be  considered  as  perfections.  The  whole  outline  of  the 
immediate  bank  in  such  a  piece  of  water,  would  have  little  more  variety 
than  that  of  one  of  Mr.  Brown's,  though  it  would  be  free  from  its  for- 
mality and  affected  sweeps  ;  and  were  natural  wood  to  grow  upon  it, 
though  that  must  always  be  a  source  of  variety,  yet  alone  it  would  not 
be  sufficient ;  for  there  are  many  varieties  of  a  striking  kind,  which  ex- 
clusively belong  to  ground,  and  of  which  wood  cannot  supply  the  place, 
however  necessary  it  be  to  accompany,  and  to  give  them  their  full 
value.  What  is  it  then  that  would  give  to  a  lake  of  this  kind  a  higher 
interest  with  lovers  of  painting,  and  with  many  other  persons  of  natural 
taste  and  observation  ?  and  what  would  be  the  causes  of  such  a  change  ? 
This  is  the  inquiry  I  propose  to  make,  and  this  will  lead  to  the  ex- 
amples of  that  mode  of  imitating  nature  which  I  have  already  men- 
tioned. 

To  give  rise  to  picturesque  circumstances  in  such  a  lake,  we  must 
first  suppose  the  soil  and  the  turf,  instead  of  being  firm,  to  be  in  parts 
of  a  looser  texture,  and  consequently  to  be  more  easily  acted  upon  by 
frost  and  water.  The  winter  torrents  would  in  that  case  wash  some  of 
the  ground  from  the  higher  parts,  which  by  degrees  would  accumulate, 
and  form  different  mounds  immediately  above  the  water,  and  some- 
times little  promontories,  which  would  jut  out  into  the  lake.  Such 
projections  would  not  long  remain  bare  ;  for  wherever  soil  is  drifted 
down  and  accumulates,  vegetation  is  particularly  luxuriant :  heath  and 
furze,  and,  under  their  protection,  trees  and  bushes  will  often  spring  up 
spontaneously  ;  and  every  one  must  have  observed  how  much  more  fre- 
quently they  are  found  on  the  sides  of  gullies  and  ravines,  than  on  the 
more  open  parts  of  hills,  and  how  much  more  picturesque  their  effect  is 
in  such  situations. 

In  other  places  the  soil  would  crumble  away,  and  the  banks  be 
broken,  and  deeply  indented.   Should  there  be  any  rocks  or  large  stones, 

R 


258 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


they,  from  the  same  causes,  will  partially  be  bared  ;  while  the  strata 
of  sand,  gravel,  and  of  different  coloured  earths  mixed  with  the  tints  of 
vegetation,  will  in  various  parts  appear.  The  trees  which  often  grow  on 
the  shallow  soil  above  the  rocks,  will,  as  they  grow  old,  show  parts  of 
their  roots  uncovered,  and  hanging  over  or  clasping  the  rocks ;  while 
ivy,  being  guarded  by  the  same  brakes  which  nursed  up  the  trees,  will 
climb  over  them  and  the  rocks.  In  all  this,  I  have  supposed  only  parts 
of  the  banks  to  be  so  altered,  and  the  other  parts  to  remain  in  their 
former  smoothness,  verdure,  and  undulation.  I  would  now  ask,  if  two 
lakes,  the  one  universally  green  and  smooth,  the  other  with  the 
varieties  I  have  described,  were  near  each  other,  which  would  be  the 
most  generally  admired  ?  I  can  hardly  conceive  that  any  person  would 
hesitate  to  which  of  the  two  he  would  give  the  preference  ;  yet  it  must 
be  observed,  that  the  picturesque  circumstances  I  have  mentioned,  arise 
from  what,  in  other  points  of  view,  must  be  considered  as  imperfections, 
and  what,  in  their  first  crude  state,  are  deformities. 

I  will  now  put  the  case  of  an  improver  who  had  been  used  to  com- 
pare nature  and  pictures  together,  and  who  intended  to  make  a  piece 
of  artificial  water  in  a  valley,  the  sides  of  which  were  uniformly  green 
and  sloping,  like  those  of  the  lake  I  first  mentioned.  This  valley  I 
suppose  him  to  be  able  to  float  nearly  to  the  height  he  wished  by  means 
of  the  dam  only,  but  that  he  still  would  be  obliged  to  form  some  part 
totally  by  digging.  Such  an  improver  would,  of  course,  admire  the 
last  mentioned  lake,  and  be  desirous  of  finding  out  how  he  might  more 
quickly,  and  with  greater  certainty,  give  birth  to  those  picturesque 
circumstances  which  in  that  must  slowly  have  arisen  from  time  and 
accident.  He  would  begin  by  taking  the  level  of  the  future  water 
according  to  the  intended  height  of  the  head,  by  which  means  he  would 
have  a  very  tolerable  idea  of  the  general  form ;  and  he  would  take  care 
that  in  digging  out  the  mould  from  the  sides  to  form  the  head,  the 
workmen  should,  if  possible,  always  keep  some  little  way  below  that 
level,  in  order  that  no  marks  of  the  spade  should  appear  after  the  pool 
was  filled,  but  that  he  might  see  the  exact  outline  which  would  be 
formed  by  the  water  itself.  By  this  method,  some  varieties,  even  in  the 
most  unvaried  ground,  will  present  themselves ;  whereas,  by  the  usual 
method  of  preparing  the  outline  with  the  spade  according  to  the  stakes, 
the  whole  of  that  outline  must,  in  every  instance,  be  stiff  and  formal ;  it 
would  be  so  should  the  level  be  so  exactly  and  minutely  taken,  that  the  line 
were  precisely  that  which  the  water  itself  would  describe,  and  much  more 
so  if  artificial  sweeps  should  be  made.  The  bank,  therefore,  being  at  first 
left  in  its  natural  form,  and  the  water  itself  being  his  best  guide  with 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


259 


respect  to  any  changes  it  might  be  proper  to  make,  he  would  go  round 
every  part  with  a  painter's,  not  a  mere  gardener's  eye ;  and,  instead  of 
examining  how  he  might  make  the  sweeps  more  regular,  the  bank  more 
uniformly  sloping  to  the  water  edge,  and  every  thing  more  smooth,  he 
would  consider  in  what  parts  the  varieties  I  have  mentioned  could  be 
introduced  most  naturally,  and  with  most  effect. 

The  two  principal  changes  in  the  mere  ground  are  effected,  first,  by 
removing  earth  from  the  banks,  in  order  to  form  coves  and  inlets  of 
various  sizes ;  and,  secondly,  by  placing  it  upon  them,  in  order  to  vary 
their  height  and  shape,  or  against  them,  to  form  strong  projections.  The 
first  of  these  changes  is  made  in  most  pieces  of  artificial  water,  but  in 
so  tame  and  uniform  a  manner  as  to  have  little  effect  or  variety ;  the 
second  method,  I  believe,  has  never  been  attempted. 

In  order  to  keep  the  whole  more  distinct,  I  will  begin  by  considering 
both  the  difficulty  and  the  practicability  of  breaking  an  uniform  bank 
into  such  forms,  as,  when  they  are  accompanied  by  vegetation,  please  all 
eyes  in  natural  lakes  and  rivers. 

Whenever  the  shaping  of  a  bank  is  left  to  common  labourers  or  gar- 
deners, they,  of  course,  make  it  as  smooth  and  as  uniformly  sloping  as 
possible.  Any  directions  to  them  how  to  break  it  irregularly,  would 
only  produce  the  most  ridiculous  notches,  with  visible  marks  of  the 
spade  or  the  pick-axe — for  even  a  painter  who  was  used  to  gardening, 
could  not,  with  his  own  hand,  by  the  immediate  use  of  such  instru- 
ments, produce  any  thing  picturesque  or  natural.  As  art  is  unable,  by 
any  immediate  operation,  to  create  those  effects,  she  must  have  recourse 
to  nature, — that  is,  to  accident, — whose  operation,  though  she  cannot 
imitate,  she  can  in  a  great  measure  direct.  If,  therefore,  an  improver 
wishes  to  break  the  uniformity  of  a  green  sloping  bank — rising,  how- 
ever, from  the  water  with  a  quick,  though  an  equal  ascent — he  will 
oblige  his  workmen,  after  he  has  marked  out  the  general  forms  and 
sizes  of  those  breaks,  to  cut  down  the  banks  perpendicularly,  and  then 
to  undermine  them  in  different  degrees.  By  this  method,  though  he 
be  unable  to  copy  the  particular  breaks  with  which  he  may  have  been 
pleased,  he  will  be  certain  of  imitating  their  general  character.  By 
this  method,  likewise,  all  sameness  and  formality  of  lines  will  neces- 
sarily be  avoided ;  for,  were  each  break  to  be  staked  out  in  the  most 
formal  manner,  each  to  be  a  regular  semicircle  precisely  of  the  same 
dimension,  and  the  workmen  to  follow  the  exact  line  of  the  stakes,  yet 
still  by  undermining  it  would  be  impossible  not  to  produce  variety.  Then 
again,  as  monotony  is  the  parent  of  monotony,  so  is  variety  the  parent 
of  variety.    When,  by  the  action  of  rain  and  frost,  added  to  that  of 


260 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


the  water  itself,  large  fragments  of  mould  tumble  from  the  hollowed 
banks  of  rivers  or  lakes,  those  fragments,  by  the  accumulation  of  other 
mould,  often  lose  their  rude  and  broken  form,  are  covered  with  the 
freshest  grassland  enriched  with  tufts  of  natural  flowers;  and,  though 
detached  from  the  bank,  and  upon  a  lower  level,  still  appear  connected 
with  it,  and  vary  its  outline  in  the  softest  and  most  pleasing  manner. 
As  fragments  of  the  same  kind  will  always  be  detached  from  ground 
that  is  undermined,  so,  by  their  means,  the  same  eifects  may  designedly 
be  produced ;  and  they  will  suggest  numberless  intricacies  and  varieties 
of  a  soft  and  pleasing,  as  well  as  of  a  broken  kind.  They  will  likewise 
indicate  where  large  stones  may  be  placed  in  the  most  natural  and 
picturesque  manner ;  for,  when  such  stones  and  fragments  of  mould  are 
grouped  with  each  other,  they  not  only  have  a  better  effect  to  the 
painter's  eye,  but  they  appear  to  have  fallen  together  from  the  bank  ; 
whereas,  without  such  indication,  without  something  in  the  form  of  the 
ground  which  accords  with  and  accompanies  them,  stones  placed  upon 
mere  turf,  have  seldom  that  appearance  of  lucky  accident  which  should 
be  the  aim  where  objects  are  not  professedly  artificial.  In  making  any 
of  those  abrupt  inlets,  the  improver  must  consider  what  parts  would 
most  probably  have  been  torn  by  floods,  if  the  mould  and  the  turf  had 
been  of  a  looser  texture,  and  the  general  surface  less  calculated  to  spread 
the  water,  in  order  that  he  might  give  to  his  breaks  the  appearance  of 
having  been  torn  by  accident.  He  would  not,  however,  be  guided  by 
that  consideration  alone,  but  also  observe  where  such  inlets  would  have 
the  most  picturesque,  as  well  as  the  most  natural  effect — how  they 
would  be  accompanied,  and  in  what  manner  the  more  distant  parts 
might  be  introduced ;  for  as  all  strongly  marked  abruptnesses  attract 
the  eye,  he  would  endeavour  by  their  means  to  attract  it  towards  the 
most  interesting  objects,  or  at  least  not  towards  those  of  an  opposite 
character. 

[I  conceive  that  in  most  situations  it  may  be  quite  possible,  with 
some  sacrifice  of  expense,  to  introduce  here  and  there  broken  rocky 
precipices,  of  more  or  less  magnitude,  that  might  serve  to  give  the 
happiest  variety  to  the  aquatic  scene  which  the  improver  is  forming. 
There  can  be  no  difficulty  of  ascertaining  whether  the  prevailing  rock 
of  the  locality  is  any  where  found  to  approach  within  reasonable  prox- 
imity to  the  surface.  This  may  be  a  more  uncertain  investigation  if 
the  rock  be  of  the  primitive  class ;  but  if  it  be  stratified,  it  must  al- 
ways be  an  easy  matter  to  ascertain  the  depth  at  which  it  exists,  at 
whatever  angle  the  general  stratification  may  lie.  Having  learned  this, 
it  will  be  quite  possible,  before  admitting  the  water  into  the  valley  to 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


261 


be  flooded,  to  open  up  a  large  irregular  quarry  in  the  sloping  side  of  the 
hill ;  and  to  secure  the  essential  point  that  the  rocks  may  rise  naturally 
out  of  a  certain  depth  of  the  future  water,  the  operation  of  quarrying 
may  be  made  to  commence  at  any  given  depth  below  the  line  of  its 
intended  level.  Very  picturesque  little  irregular  rocky  bays  might  thus 
be  formed,  which,  with  the  after  addition  of  trees,  shrubs,  and  plants, 
might  give  the  charm  of  Nature  to  the  scene,  when  the  whole  effect  be- 
came mellowed  by  the  softening  touch  of  time.  A  rocky  promontory 
might  thus  also  be  created,  by  taking  advantage  of  a  prominence  in  the 
hill,  and  quarrying  irregularly  into  either  side  of  it — and  if  the  masses 
of  stone  that  are  thus  quarried  out  were  not  found  to  be  of  any  import- 
ant value  elsewhere,  they  might  be  very  advantageously  employed  for 
the  general  effect,  by  scattering  them  carelessly  along  certain  flat  parts 
of  the  shores  within  the  proposed  water  line,  or  about  the  base  of  the 
newly-created  cliffs,  where  some  of  them  might  be  seen  half-rising  above 
the  water.  For  this  last  object,  the  larger  the  blocks  could  be  blasted 
out,  and  the  more  irregular  they  could  be  in  form,  the  better  effect 
they  would  have — and  a  due  intermixture  of  aquatic  plants  would  add 
to  the  perfection  of  the  whole  composition. — E.] 

After  the  improver  had  settled  the  principal  points  where  he  would 
either  add  or  take  away  earth  for  the  sake  of  picturesque  effect,  he 
would  then  begin  to  dig  out  the  soil  that  might  be  necessary  for  com- 
pleting the  form  and  size  he  wished  to  give  his  lake.  In  the  manage- 
ment of  this  part,  which  must  be  entirely  formed  by  digging,  lies  the 
great  difficulty ;  for  if  the  line  be  exactly  staked  out,  and  the  bank 
everywhere  sloped  down  in  that  direction  to  the  edge  of  the  future 
water,  perfect  monotony  will,  as  usual,' be  the  consequence.  The  art 
here  consists — and  it  is  by  no  means  an  easy  one — in  preserving  a 
general  play  and  connection  of  outline,  yet  varied  by  breaks  and  inlets 
of  different  heights  and  characters — it  consists  in  avoiding  sameness 
and  insipid  curves,  yet  in  no  less  carefully  avoiding  such  frequent  and 
distinct  breaks,  as,  from  a  different  cause,  would  disfigure  the  outline. 

Such  opposite  defects  might  perhaps  be  avoided,  and  such  opposite 
beauties  be  united,  were  improvers  to  observe,  and  even  to  analyze 
those  banks  of  natural  lakes  and  rivers,  in  which  such  beauties,  without 
the  defects,  do  exist.  No  one  can  doubt  that  there  are  natural  banks 
of  a  moderate  height,  where  the  general  play  of  outline  is  preserved  by 
the  connection  of  the  parts,  and  yet  where  on  a  near  approach,  and  in 
different  directions,  numberless  breaks,  inlets,  and  picturesque  circum- 
stances of  every  kind  are  perceived. 

Let  us  suppose  then,  that  all  the  trees,  bushes,  and  vegetation  of 


c26c2 


SIR  UVKDALE  PRICE 


every  kind,  w  ere  to  be  taken  away  from  such  a  bank  ;  what  would 
remain  ?  A  number  of  rough  unsightly  heaps  of  earth,  tumbled  into 
irregular  shapes  ;  with  perhaps  several  stumps,  roots  of  trees,  and  large 
stones  in  different  parts  of  it.  If  these  also  were  removed,  nothing 
would  be  left  but  broken  unequal  banks  of  earth.  The  prophetic  eye 
of  real  taste  might  indeed,  even  in  this  rude  chaos,  discern  the  founda- 
tion of  numberless  beauties  and  varieties ;  but  the  rash  hand  of  false 
taste  would  destroy  that  foundation,  by  indiscriminately  destroying  all 
roughness  and  inequality. 

This  sort  of  analysis  shows  what  is  the  groundwork  of  picturesque 
improvement  j  but  that  groundwork  by  no  means  precludes  the  future  ad- 
mission of  those  softer  beauties  which  arise  from  smoothness  and  undula- 
tion. The  essential  difference  is,  that  the  last-mentioned  qualities  may 
be  given  at  any  time,  and  in  any  degree ;  whereas  it  is  extremely  diffi- 
cult to  return  back  to  abruptness.  The  reason  of  this  difference  is 
obvious — all  smoothing  and  levelling  can  be  done  in  a  great  measure  by 
rule,  and  therefore  with  certainty ;  but  the  effects  of  abruptness,  though 
they  may  be  prepared  by  design,  can  only  be  produced  by  accident, 
and  cannot  be  renewed  but  by  the  same  process. 

The  person,  therefore,  who  has  any  part  of  a  piece  of  water  to  form 
totally  anew,  would,  according  to  my  conception,  do  well  to  take  any 
beautiful  bank  of  a  river  or  lake  that  would  suit  the  style  and  scale  of 
his  ground,  as  a  sort  of  model ;  and  in  some  degree  to  analyze  the 
component  parts,  and,  as  it  were,  the  anatomy  of  it.  He  would  do 
well  to  examine  the  ground  with  its  breaks,  cavities,  and  inequalities, 
separate  from  their  beautiful  disguise  of  trees  and  plants ;  and  to  con- 
sider the  effect  which  such  ground  gives  to  vegetation,  as  well  as  the 
charm  which  it  receives  from  that  delightful  drapery  of  nature.  In 
doing  this,  the  improver  would  be  following  the  practice  of  the  most 
consummate  masters  of  another  art.  Who  does  not  know  that  Raphael, 
and  almost  all  the  eminent  historical  painters,  though  their  pictures 
were  only  to  represent  the  human  figure  in  its  perfect  state,  yet  studied 
and  designed  the  anatomical  position  of  all  the  bones,  muscles,  &c,  in 
detail  ?  What  is  still  more  to  the  point  in  question,  the  great  artist 
whom  I  have  just  mentioned,  accurately  drew  the  naked  forms  of  those 
figures,  which  he  meant  to  represent  with  drapery  ;  knowing  how  much 
the  grace  and  play  of  that  drapery  must  depend  on  what  was  beneath, 
and  that  its  folds  were  not  meant  to  hide,  but  to  indicate  and  adorn  the 
forms  which  they  covered. 

The  whole  of  this  presents  the  idea  of  ground-working  in  a  new  and 
a  much  higher  point  of  view  ;  so  perfectly  new,  that  I  believe  nothing 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


263 


of  the  kind  has  hitherto  been  attempted,  or  even  thought  of.  The  diffi- 
culty is  in  proportion  to  the  variety  of  points  from  which  each  part  (as 
being  part  of  a  composition)  must  be  considered.  Mr.  Brown  never 
thought  of  picturesque  composition ;  and  where  the  parts,  as  in  his 
banks,  are  all  alike  both  in  form  and  colour,  and  without  any  break, 
there  can  be  no  difficulty  with  regard  to  their  connection  with  each 
other,  however  ill  they  may  accord  with  the  rest  of  the  landscape. 
Monotony  is,  indeed,  a  very  certain  remedy  against  particular  defects  ; 
but  it  may  truly  be  said,  that  such  a  remedy  is  worse  than  almost  any 
disease. 

If,  then,  an  improver  were  determined  to  avoid  such  unnatural 
monotony,  to  copy  nature  in  her  lucky  varieties  and  effects,  and  to 
copy  her  as  closely  as  possible,  he  might  by  way  of  study,  and  as  a 
trial  how  far  an  imitation  could  be  made  to  resemble  a  beautiful 
original,  take  a  sort  of  plan  of  the  ground,  independently  of  the  trees, 
&c.  He  might  then  mark  out  on  the  sides  of  the  future  water,  the 
exact  places  where  the  mould  which  was  dug  out  should  be  de- 
posited, but  without  being  smoothed  or  levelled  ;  only  directing  that 
each  heap,  more  or  less  continued  and  extended  in  length,  should  be 
raised  to  certain  heights  in  different  parts ; — all  the  inlets  and  projec- 
tions might  be  formed  upon  the  same  principle.  This,  when  done, 
would  be  the  rough  groundwork,  and  would  have  something  of  the 
general  shape  of  what  he  had  admired,  but  with  unavoidable  varieties. 
Such  a  state  of  ground  may  be  compared  to  the  state  of  a  picture  when 
the  artist  has  just  roughly  sketched  in  the  general  masses  and  forms. 
To  a  person  unused  to  the  process,  the  whole  appears  like  a  heap  of 
confusion,  and  of  dabs  of  paint  put  on  at  random — just  as  the  ground 
in  a  similar  state  would  appear  like  a  heap  of  dirt,  thrown  about  with- 
out any  meaning  ;  and  this  is  the  state  in  which  both  painters  and  im- 
provers would  dislike  to  have  their  works  seen.  But  in  both  it  is  a 
necessary  preparation — a  rude  process — through  which  those  works 
must  pass,  before  they  can  receive  the  more  distinct  and  finishing 
touches. 

The  general  form  of  the  bank,  that  is,  of  the  mere  ground,  being 
made  out  in  this  rude  manner,  the  improver  would  next  observe  what 
were  the  other  circumstances,  independently  of  trees  and  vegetation, 
which  gave  picturesque  effect  to  the  bank  of  the  natural  river  which  he 
was  endeavouring  to  imitate,  and  produced  varied  reflections  in  the 
water.  These,  he  might  probably  find,  were  old  stumps  and  trunks  of 
trees,  with  their  roots  bare  and  projecting — small  ledges  of  rocks,  and 
stones  of  various  sizes,  either  accompanied  by  the  broken  soil  only,  or 


264 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK. 


fixed  among  the  matted  roots — some  of  them  in  the  sides  of  the  bank 
itself — some  below  it,  and  near  the  edge  of  the  water — others  in  the 
water,  with  their  tops  appearing  above  it.  In  another  part  again,  there 
might  be  a  beach  of  gravel,  sand,  or  pebbles,  the  general  bank  being 
there  divided,  and  a  passage  worn  through  it,  by  animals  coming  to 
drink,  or  to  cool  themselves  in  the  water.  Many  of  these,  and  of 
similar  circumstances,  he  might  probably  be  able  to  produce  in  his  new- 
formed  bank,  before  he  began  the  operation  of  planting  ;  nor  ought  he 
to  be  deterred  by  the  awkward  naked  appearance  of  stumps,  roots,  and 
stones  half-buried  in  dirt,  but  look  forward  to  the  time  when  dirt  and 
bareness  will  be  gone,  when  rudeness  will  be  disguised,  and  effect  and 
variety  alone  remain. 

Should  a  taste  for  diversifying  the  banks  of  artificial  water  once  pre- 
vail, I  am  well  persuaded  that  such  an  inexhaustible  fund  of  amuse- 
ment and  interest  would  succeed  to  the  present  dull  monotony,  as  might 
tempt  many  into  the  opposite  extreme.  Just  at  present,  however,  there 
is  no  need  of  caution  on  that  head  ;  and  the  study  of  pictures,  by  means 
of  which  a  taste  for  such  varieties  is  best  acquired,  will  at  once  be  the 
incentive  and  the  corrective  ; — it  will  point  out  many  unthought-of 
varieties  and  effects,  and  at  the  same  time  will  show  in  what  situations 
simplicity,  in  what  richness  ought  to  prevail — where,  and  how  they 
ought  to  be  introduced  in  succession,  so  as  to  give  relief  to  each  other. 

When  we  consider  the  great  beauty  of  tints,  independently  of  form, 
and  of  light  and  shadow ;  as  likewise  the  great  variety  of  them  which 


OX  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


nature  does,  and  consequently  art  may.  introduce  into  one  scene  of  a 
river,  and  that  with  the  most  perfect  harmony  and  unity  of  effect — it 
is  quite  surprising  that  thev  should  absolutely  have  been  banished  from 
the  banks  of  artificial  water,  and  from  what  are  meant  to  be  the  most 
ornamented  scenes.  I  am  not  here  speaking  of  trees  or  their  various 
tints — of  which,  however,  little  advantage  has  been  taken  on  the  banks 
of  water,  though  in  other  places  too  licentious  a  use  is  often  made  of 
their  diversity.  I  am  now  speaking  of  the  tints  of  stone,  and  of  the 
soil  in  broken  ground,  both  which  have  this  great  advantage — that,  al- 
though they  form  a  more  marked  contrast  to  vegetation  than  any  trees 
do  to  each  other,  yet  they,  in  a  peculiar  degree,  harmonise  with  other 
objects.  The  first  of  them  is  in  many  cases  allowed  to  be  highly  orna- 
mental ; — the  latter,  I  believe,  may  be  made  to  accord  with  dressed 
scenery,  at  least  where  the  banks  of  water  are  concerned ;  for  where 
the  professed  aim  is  that  of  imitating  a  river,  surely  those  circumstances 
which  give  such  effect,  variety,  and  naturalness  to  rivers,  ought  not  to 
be  proscribed.  On  the  contrary,  the  improver  ought  to  make  them  the 
object  of  his  search,  his  study,  and  his  imitation,  not  only  on  lakes  and 
rivers,  but  wherever  there  are  rich  and  varied  banks — for  we  must  be 
sure  that  water  and  reflection  would  double  their  beauties.  All  such 
banks  afford  studies  for  painters,  either  alone,  or  combined  with  water ; 
but  without  some  variety  of  tint  in  their  accompaniments,  rivers,  either 
in  nature  or  painting,  would  be  most  insipid  objects.  If.  therefore,  an 
arti>t  were  desired  to  paint  a  scene,  in  which  a  river  was  to  be  the 
principal  feature,  and  were  told,  at  the  same  time,  that  for  the  banks 
of  it  he  must  make  use  of  no  other  colour  than  grass  green,  I  imagine 
he  would  hardly  undertake  it,  even  if  he  should  be  allowed  to  differ  so 
far  from  Mr.  Brown  as  to  vary  the  form  as  well  as  the  light  and  shadow 
of  those  banks.  Mr.  Brown  and  his  followers  have  confined  themselves 
to  the  most  strict  and  absolute  monotony,  in  form,  colour,  and  light  and 
shadow.  I  trust  that  some  years  hence  it  will  appear  quite  surprising, 
that  professors  of  the  art  of  laying  out  grounds  should  have  received 
large  sums  of  money  for  having  planned  and  executed  what  they  called 
artificial  rivers ;  but  from  which  they  had  studiously  excluded  almost 
every  circumstance  of  a  natural  one.  except  what  they  could  not  get 
rid  of — the  two  elements  of  earth  and  water.  The  artist  whom  I  have 
instanced  would  certainly  wish  to  make  use  of  such  a  diversity  of  tints 
as  might  create  variety  and  interest,  without  glare  and  confusion  ;  and 
the  improver,  instead  of  being  more  restrained,  may  be  allowed  to  go 
much  farther  than  the  painter — and  this  is  a  point  which  deserves  to  be 
discussed. 


266 


Silt  UVKDALE  PRICK 


Landscape  painters  have  availed  themselves  of  all  the  varieties  which 
suited  their  art ;  but  in  a  painted  landscape,  the  detail  must  always  be 
subordinate  to  the  general  effect.  It  often  happens  that  in  a  real  fore- 
ground numberless  circumstances  give  delight  which  the  painter  in  a 
great  degree  suppresses ;  because  they  would  not  accord  with  the  in- 
tentional neglect  of  detail  in  the  general  style  and  conduct  of  his  pic- 
ture, nor  yet  with  the  scale  of  it,  compared  with  that  of  real  scenery. 
But  the  improver,  wrho  works  with  the  materials  of  nature,  may  ven- 
ture, though  still  with  caution,  to  indulge  himself  in  her  liberties — he 
may  give  to  particular  parts  the  highest  degree  of  enrichment,  that 
rocks,  stones,  roots,  mosses,  with  flowering  and  trailing  plants,  of  close 
or  of  loose  texture,  can  create,  without  the  same  danger  which  the 
painter  incurs,  of  injuring  the  whole.  Such  parts,  when  viewed  at  a 
distance,  would  only  have  a  general  air  of  richness ;  and  that  is  the 
character  which  they  would  have  in  a  painted  landscape.  When  seen 
near,  they  are  much  more  rich  in  detail  than  a  painter  could  venture  to 
represent  them  in  his  foreground — they  are  compositions  of  a  confined 
kind,  which  have  seldom  been  carefully  finished  as  such,  though  often 
sketched  as  studies.  But  had  such  an  artist  as  Van-Huysum,  who 
was  both  a  landscape  and  a  flower-painter,  chosen  to  take  a  compart- 
ment of  that  kind  by  itself  quite  separate  from  the  rest  of  the  scenery, 
he  would  have  represented  it  in  its  full  detail ;  and  such  a  picture 
would  have  borne  the  same  relation  to  a  landscape,  as  one  of  those 
groups  of  flowers  which  he  so  often  did  paint,  and  with  such  wonder- 
ful truth  and  splendour,  bear  to  the  general  view  of  a  garden.  He 
would  have  expressed  all  the  brilliancy  and  mellowness  of  such  a  small 
composition ;  and  we,  in  dressing  such  parts,  should  endeavour  to  give 
them  that  mixture  of  mellowness  and  brilliancy  which  would  suit  such 
a  picture  as  he,  or  any  painter  of  the  same  character  and  excellence, 
would  have  painted. 

These  are  some  of  my  reasons  for  thinking  that  the  banks  of  artificial 
water  may  be  more  enriched,  than  those  of  rivers  appear  to  be  in  paint- 
ing, or,  I  may  add,  than  they  are  in  nature,  if  an  average  were  taken 
between  the  plain  and  the  enriched  parts  of  the  most  admired  river.  A 
piece  of  made  water  bears  the  same  relation  to  a  lake,  or  a  river,  that 
a  sonnet,  or  an  epigram,  does  to  an  heroic  or  a  didactic  poem  :  in  any 
short  poem,  a  quick  succession  of  brilliant  images  and  expressions  is 
not  only  admired,  but  expected — for,  as  Lorenzo  de  Medici  says  ;  "  La 
brevita  del  sonetto,  non  comporte  eke  una  sola  parola  sia  vana  " — 
whereas  they  would  be  ill  placed  in  the  narrative,  or  the  connecting 
parts  of  a  long  work.    The  case  is  particularly  strong  with  respect  to 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  AVATER. 


267 


artificial  water — as  it  is  professedly  ornamental,  and  made  with  no  other 
intention. 

In  order  to  point  out  a  few  of  those  varieties  which  appear  to  me 
most  capable  of  being  imitated  by  art,  I  will  consider  some  of  the 
different  characters  of  the  banks  of  natural  rivers.  The  most  unin- 
teresting parts  of  any  river,  are  those  of  which  the  immediate  banks 
are  flat,  green,  naked,  and  of  equal  height.  I  have  said  uninteresting  ; 
for  they  are  merely  insipid,  not  ugly  ;  no  one  however,  I  believe,  calls 
them  beautiful,  or  thinks  of  carrying  a  stranger  to  see  them.  But 
should  the  same  kind  of  banks  be  fringed  with  flourishing  trees  and 
underwood,  there  is  not  a  person  who  would  not  be  much  pleased  at 
looking  down  such  a  reach,  and  seeing  such  a  fringe  reflected  in  the 
clear  mirror.  If,  a  little  farther  on,  instead  of  this  pleasing,  but  uniform 
fringe,  the  immediate  banks  were  higher  in  some  places,  and  suddenly 
projecting — if,  on  some  of  these  projections,  groups  of  trees  stood  on  the 
grass  only  ;  on  others,  a  mixture  of  them  with  fern  and  underwood, 
and  between  them  the  turf  alone  came  down  almost  to  the  water  edge, 
and  let  in  the  view  towards  the  more  distant  objects — any  spectator 
who  observed  at  all,  must  be  struck  with  the  difference  between  one 
rich,  but  uniform  fringe,  and  the  succession  and  opposition  of  high  and 
low,  of  rough  and  smooth,  of  enrichment  and  simplicity.  A  little  farther 
on,  other  circumstances  of  diversity  might  occur.  In  some  parts  of  the 
bank,  large  trunks  and  roots  of  trees  might  form  coves  over  the  water, 
while  the  broken  soil  might  appear  amidst  them  and  the  overhanging 
foliage  ;  adding  to  the  fresh  green,  the  warm  and  mellow  tints  of  a  rich 
ochre,  or  a  bright  yellow.  A  low  ledge  of  rocks  might  likewise  show 
itself  a  little  above  the  surface  ;  but  so  shaded  by  projecting  boughs  as 
to  have  its  form  and  colour  darkly  reflected.  At  other  times  these 
rocks  might  be  open  to  the  sun,  and,  in  place  of  wood,  a  mixture  of 
heath  and  furze  with  their  purple  and  yellow  flowers,  might  crown  the 
top ;  between  them  wild  roses,  honeysuckles,  periwinkles,  and  other 
trailing  plants  might  hang  down  the  sides  towards  the  water,  in  which 
all  these  brilliant  colours  and  varied  forms  would  be  fully  reflected. 

These  are  a  few  of  the  numberless  varieties,  which  it  is  within  the 
compass  of  art  to  imitate  ;  they,  nevertheless,  have  seldom,  if  ever,  been 
tried  in  the  style,  or  for  the  purposes  that  I  have  mentioned — not 
even  those  which  arise  from  planting.  But  as  rocks  with  cascades 
have  been  imitated  with  success,  there  can  be  no  difficulty  in  placing 
trunks,  or  roots  of  trees,  or  in  imitating  many  effects  of  stone,  or  of 
rocks,  on  a  smaller  scale  ;  especially  where  there  is  no  motion  to  disturb 
them.    With  regard  to  the  tints  of  soil,  if  sand,  or  any  rich-coloured 


268 


SIR  UVKDALE  PRICE 


earth,  be  placed  where  it  will  he  supported  by  stones,  roots,  or  ledges  of 
rocks,  as  it  often  is  in  nature,  it  will  probably  remain  undisturbed  ;  as 
there  would  be  no  current,  or  flood  to  affect  it. 


In  all  I  have  written  on  the  subject  of  improvement,  one  great  pur- 
pose has  been  to  point  out  the  affinity  between  landscape  painting,  and 
landscape  gardening ;  in  this  case,  the  affinity  is  very  close  indeed. 
The  landscape  gardener  would  prepare  his  colours,  would  mix  and  break 
them,  just  like  the  painter ;  and  would  be  equally  careful  to  avoid  the 
two  extremes  of  glare  and  monotony  ;  every  aim  of  the  painter  with 
respect  to  form,  and  light  and  shadow,  would  likewise  be  equally  that 
of  the  landscape  gardener. 

Between  the  professors  of  Mr.  Brown's  school  and  landscape  painters, 
there  certainly  is  no  kind  of  affinity ;  but  there  is  one  branch  of  the  art 
of  painting,  from  which  they  seem  to  have  borrowed  many  of  their 
principles,  and  their  ideas  of  effect.  I  mean  that  branch,  the  professors 
of  which  sometimes  call  themselves  painters  in  general,  but  who  are 
more  commonly  known  by  the  name  of  house-painters.  The  aim  of  a 
house-painter  is  to  make  every  thing  as  smooth  and  even  as  the  nature 
of  what  he  is  to  work  upon  will  allow  ;  and  then  to  make  it  of  one 
uniform  colour.  So  did  Mr.  Brown.  Another  part  of  his  art  is  to  keep 
exactly  within  the  lines  that  are  marked  out.  "When,  for  instance,  he 
is  picking  in  (as  it  is  termed)  the  frize,  or  the  ornaments  of  a  ceiling, 
he  carefully  and  evenly  lays  on  his  white,  his  green,  or  his  red,  and 
takes  care  that  all  the  lines  and  the  passages  from  one  colour  to  another 
shall  be  distinctly  seen,  and  never  mixed  and  blended  with  each  other 
as  in  landscape  painting.  So  far  the  two  professors  exactly  resemble 
each  other.  The  great  difference  between  them  is,  that  the  former 
never  proposed  any  of  their  works  as  landscapes  ;  whereas  the  latter, 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


269 


with  almost  as  little  pretension,  have  proposed  theirs,  not  merely  as 
landscapes,  but  as  landscapes  of  a  more  refined  and  exquisite  kind,  than 
those  which  nature,  or  the  best  of  her  imitators  had  produced. 

It  may  be  objected  to  the  style  I  have  recommended,  that  from  the 
awkward  attempts  at  picturesque  effect,  such  fantastic  works  would 
often  be  produced  as  might  force  us  to  regret  even  the  present  monotony. 
I  have  no  doubt  that  very  diverting  performances  in  roots,  stones,  and 
rock-work  would  be  produced,  and  that  alone  I  should  reckon  as  no 
little  gain  ;  for  who  would  not  prefer  an  absurd,  but  laughable  farce, 
to  a  flat  insipid  piece  of  five  acts  ?  There  is,  however,  another  very 
essential  difference.  In  a  made  river  there  is  such  an  incorrigible  dul- 
ness,  that  unless  the  banks  themselves  be  totally  altered,  the  most  judi- 
cious planting  will  not  entirely  get  the  better  of  it.  But  let  the  most 
whimsical  improver  make  banks  with  roots,  stones,  rocks,  grottos, 
caverns,  of  every  odd  and  fantastic  form ;  even  these,  by  means  of  trees, 
bushes,  trailing  plants,  and  of  vegetation  in  general,  may  in  a  short 
time  have  their  absurdities  in  a  great  degree  disguised,  and  still,  under 
that  disguise,  be  the  cause  of  many  varied  and  striking  effects.  How 
much  more  so,  if  the  same  materials  were  disposed  by  a  skilful  artist ! 
There  are,  indeed,  such  advantages  arising  from  the  moisture  and  vege- 
tation which  generally  attend  the  near  banks  of  water,  that  even  quarry 
stones  simply  placed  against  a  bank,  however  crude  their  first  appear- 
ance, soon  become  picturesque ;  mosses  and  weather-stains,  the  certain 
consequence  of  moisture,  soon  enrich  and  diversify  their  surface,  while 
plants  of  different  kinds  spring  forth  between  their  separations,  and 
crawl,  and  hang  over  them  in  various  directions.  [^Where  the  depth 
of  the  water  is  not  to  be  greater  than  may  admit  of  such  an  operation,  a 
good  picturesque  point  may  be  produced  by  the  mere  erection  of  a  rude 
pier,  which  may  be  partly  or  entirely  made  of  rustic  wood,  or  altogether 
of  rough  and  uncemented  stones.  A  boat  moored  to  such  a  pier,  will 
at  once  convert  it  into  a  point  of  some  interest,  which  cannot  fail  to 
improve  the  whole  effect. — E.]  If  stones  thus  placed  upright  like  a 
wall,  nay  if  a  wall  itself  may  by  means  of  such  accompaniments  have 
an  effect,  what  an  infinite  number  of  pleasing  and  striking  combinations 
might  be  made,  were  an  improver  with  the  eye  of  a  painter,  to  search 
for  stones  of  such  forms  and  tints  as  he  could  employ  to  most  advantage  ! 
Were  he,  at  the  same  time,  likewise  to  avail  himself  of  some  of  those 
beautiful,  but  less  common  flowering  and  climbing  plants  which  in 
general  are  only  planted  in  borders,  or  against  walls !  We  see  what  rich 
mixtures  are  formed  on  rocky  banks,  by  common  heaths  and  furze  alone, 
or  with  the  addition  of  wild  roses  and  woodbines  ;  what  new  combina- 


270 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


tions  might  then  be  made  in  many  places  with  the  Virginia  creeper, 
periploca,  trailing  arbutus,  &c,  which  though,  perhaps,  not  more  beauti- 
ful, would  have  a  new  and  more  dressed  appearance !  Many  of  the 
choice  American  plants  of  low  growth,  and  which  love  shade,  such  as 
kalmeas,  and  rhododendrons,  by  having  the  mould  they  most  delight  in 
placed  to  the  north,  on  that  sort  of  shelf  which  is  often  seen  between  a 
lower  and  an  upper  ledge  of  rocks,  would  be  as  likely  to  nourish  as  in 
a  garden.  And  it  may  be  here  remarked,  that  when  plants  are  placed 
in  new  situations  with  new  accompaniments,  half  hanging  over  one  mass 
of  stone,  and  backed  by  another,  or  by  a  mixture  of  rock,  soil,  and  wild 
vegetation,  they  assume  so  new  a  character,  such  a  novelty  and  brilliancy 
in  their  appearance,  as  can  hardly  be  conceived  by  those  who  only  see 
them  in  a  shrubbery,  or  a  botanical  garden.  In  warmer  aspects,  espe- 
cially in  the  more  southern  parts  of  England,  bignonias,  passion-flowers, 
&c.  might  often  grow  luxuriantly  amidst  similar  accompaniments ;  these 
we  have  always  seen  nailed  against  walls,  and  have  little  idea  of  their 
effect,  or  even  of  that  of  vines  and  jessamines,  when  loosely  hanging 
over  rocks  and  stones,  or  over  the  dark  coves  which  might  be  made 
among  them. 

[[I  have  tried  the  experiment  of  allowing  vines  to  trail  wildly  over  rocks 
in  certain  favourable  situations,  with  very  happy  effect.  The  hop  may 
now  and  then  be  so  used — and  that  grand  broad-leaved  plant,  the 
aristolochia  sepho,  is  especially  well  adapted  for  such  purposes. — E.] 

These  effects  of  a  more  dressed  and  minute  kind,  might  be  tried  with 
great  convenience  and  propriety  in  those  parts  of  artificial  pieces  of 
water,  which  are  often  enclosed  from  the  pasture  grounds,  and  dedicated 
solely  to  shrubs  and  verdure ;  while  other  circumstances  of  a  ruder  nature, 
and  not  so  liable  to  be  injured,  might  with  equal  propriety  be  placed  in  less 
polished  scenes  ;  and  by  such  methods,  a  varied  succession  of  pictures 
might  be  formed  on  the  banks  of  made  water.  Some  of  soft  turf,  and  a 
few  simple  objects — others  full  of  enrichment  and  intricacy — others  par- 
taking of  both  those  characters — yet  while  monotony  was  avoided  in  the 
simple  parts,  general  breadth  and  harmony  might  no  less  be  preserved 
in  those  which  were  most  enriched,  for  they  are  preserved  in  the  most 
striking  parts  of  natural  rivers  ;  which  are  often  so  full  of  richness,  in  - 
tricacy, and  variety,  that  art  must  despair  to  rival  them. 

It  may,  perhaps,  be  thought  that  such  banks  as  Mr.  Brown  made, 
though  very  tiresome  if  uniformly  continued,  would  be  very  proper  for 
the  simple  parts  of  such  artificial  water  as  I  have  supposed  ;  in  my 
opinion,  however,  they  are  in  one  sense,  almost  as  remote  from  simpli- 
city as  from  richness.    Simplicity,  when  applied  to  objects  in  which 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


271 


nature  is  professedly  imitated,  always  implies  naturalness  ;  by  which  I 
mean  that  all  the  circumstances,  whether  few  or  many,  should  have  the 
appearance  of  having  been  produced  by  a  lucky  concurrence  of  natural 
causes,  without  the  interference  of  art.  For  that  reason,  when  a  river 
is  the  object  of  imitation,  the  banks  ought  not  to  be  made  more 
regularly  sloping  to  the  edge  of  the  water,  or  more  exactly  levelled, 
than  those  of  gentle  rivers  usually  are,  otherwise  they  betray  art,  and, 
of  course,  are  no  longer  simple.  Indeed,  in  all  such  imitations  the 
danger  of  betraying  art  should  preA'ent  too  nice  an  attention  to  regular 
slopes,  even  though  frequent  precedents  should  be  found  to  exist  in 
nature.  The  case  is  different  in  the  gravel  walk  ;  for  that  is  no  imita  - 
tion of  nature,  but  an  avowed  piece  of  art — avowedly  made  for  comfort 
and  neatness.  The  two  sides  of  a  gravel  walk  may,  therefore,  be  as 
even  and  smooth  as  art  can  make  them,  and  the  sweeps  regular  and 
uniform.  From  not  attending  to  this  very  obvious  difference,  Mr. 
Brown  has  formed  the  banks  of  his  rivers  just  as  he  did  the  sides  of 
his  walks  ;  he  made  the  curves  equally  regular,  and  the  lines  equally 
distinct.* 

I  shall,  very  probably,  be  accused  of  a  passion  for  enrichment,  and  a 
contempt  for  simplicity,  as  I  have  been  of  an  exclusive  fondness  for  the 
picturesque,  and  of  a  want  of  feeling  for  what  is  beautiful.  I  have  the 
same  defence  to  make  against  both  charges — the  necessity  of  counter- 
acting the  strong  and  manifest  tendency  of  the  general  taste  towards 
monotony  and  baldness,  to  which  simplicity  is  nearly  allied,  and  into 
which  it  easily  degenerates.  To  correct  those  two  great  defects  of  arti- 
ficial water,  it  was  necessary  to  show  the  charms  of  variety  and  enrich- 
ment, and  the  practicability  of  producing  them  ;  and  as  they  are  not 
meant  to  exclude  simplicity,  so  neither  should  simplicity  exclude  them 
— they  are  correctives  and  heighteners  of  each  other.  But  it  must  be 
observed,  that  the  effects  of  enrichment  can  be  more  distinctly  pointed 
out  in  theory,  and  more  certainly  created  in  j)ractice,  than  those  of 
simplicity  in  its  genuine  sense.  The  charm  of  a  simple  view  on  a  river 
consists  in  having  a  few  objects  happily  placed.  A  small  group  of 
trees — a  single  tree  with  no  other  background  than  the  sky,  or  a  bare 
hill — a  mere  bush — a  tussuck — may  happeu  to  give  that  character,  and 
any  addition,  any  diminution,  might  injure  or  destroy  quel  tantino  che 
fa  tutto.  To  leave  such  slight  but  essential  circumstances  unaltered, 
is  a  matter  of  some  feeling  and  judgment — to  place  them,  still  more  so, 
and  the  attempt  might  often  produce  unconnected  spots ;  but  stones, 


*  Essay  on  the  Picturesque,  page  242. 


272 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


rocks,  roots,  with  trees,  bushes,  .and  trailing  plants,  if  placed  together, 
must  at  least  produce  richness  and  variety. 

That  species  of  simplicity  which  arises  from  the  objects  being  few, 
has  in  many  cases  a  distinct  and  peculiar  charm,  and  should  in  those 
eases  be  most  carefully  preserved.  There  is,  however,  another  kind  of 
simplicity,  which  is  of  more  extensive  consequence — I  mean  simplicity 
and  unity  of  effect — 

"  Denique  sit  quidvis  simplex  duntaxat  et  unum." 

Wherever  intricacy,  variety,  and  enrichment  disturb  that  unity,  they 
are  highly  injurious ;  but  where  they  do  not,  unless  they  should  inter- 
fere with  simplicity  so  pleasing  in  itself,  and  so  clearly  marked  out  as 
not  to  be  mistaken,  they  surely  in  most  instances  will  plead  their  own 
excuse. 

Hitherto  I  have  supposed,  that  in  some  part  of  the  ground  where 
artificial  water  was  to  be  made,  there  were  originally  certain  inequali- 
ties and  varieties  of  which  advantage  could  be  taken.  But,  it  might 
be  asked,  what  is  a  person  to  do  whose  house  is  situated  in  an  absolute 
flat,  and  who  still,  in  spite  of  the  disadvantages  of  such  a  situation,  and 
of  the  absence  of  all  picturesque  circumstances,  is  determined  to  make  an 
artificial  river  ?  Is  he  to  vary  the  heights  of  his  banks,  or  to  break 
them,  when  all  around  is  smooth  and  level  ?  Is  he  to  plant  bushes,  or 
suffer  them  to  grow,  when  the  whole  lawn  is  open  and  cleared  ?  These 
are  questions  which  Mr.  Browns  admirers  might  ask  with  triumph ; 
and  here,  they  might  add,  the  superiority  of  our  school  of  improvement, 
and  the  genius  of  its  founder,  appear  in  the  clearest  light.  That  great 
self-taught  master,  by  reducing  the  banks  every  where  to  the  same 
height,  by  sloping  them  regularly,  and  keeping  them  clear  from  all 
rubbish,  has  preserved,  as  far  as  it  is  possible,  that  great  beauty — con- 
tinuity of  surface  :  for  in  his  artificial  rivers,  if  we  except  the  space 
which  the  water  itself  occupies,  every  blade  of  grass  is  seen  as  it  was 
before  the  water  was  made. 

Very  few  great  self-taught  masters  have  ever  existed — none,  perhaps, 
strictly  speaking.  Mr.  Brown  certainly  is  in  no  sense  of  that  number ; 
and  to  hear  the  same  title  given  to  him  as  to  Shakspeare  or  Salvator 
Rosa,  would  raise  our  indignation,  if  the  extreme  ridicule  did  not  give 
another  turn  to  our  feelings. 

It  must  be  owned,  that  if  the  pleasure  of  viewing  a  piece  of  scenery 
consisted  in  being  able  to  follow  a  surface  with  the  least  possible  inter- 
ruption, Mr.  Brown's  method  of  making  artificial  water  would  be  per- 
fect ;  but  if  grouping,  composition,  partial  concealment,  variety,  effect, 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


273 


be  all  essential  requisites  in  the  art  of  creating  landscapes,  especially 
where  water  is  a  principal  ingredient,  then  a  very  different  method 
must  be  pursued,  even  where  the  whole  country  is  perfectly  flat.  In 
reality,  by  sacrificing  the  effect  of  water  to  the  surface  of  grass,  the 
character  of  a  meadow  or  lawn  is  destroyed,  yet  that  of  a  lake  or  river 
is  not  obtained ;  for  nothing  can  more  completely  separate  and  disunite 
the  two  parts  of  a  meadow  than  a  naked  glaring  piece  of  water,  and 
nothing  can  be  less  like  a  beautiful  river  or  lake  than  such  a  pretended 
imitation. 

In  my  opinion,  he  who  makes  a  piece  of  water,  whatever  may  be  its 
situation,  ought,  in  almost  all  cases  to  consider  it  as  the  principal  object 
of  his  attention,  and,  instead  of  sacrificing  its  character  and  effects  to  a 
false  idea  of  continuity  and  union,  ought  to  sacrifice,  if  necessary,  many 
real  beauties,  if  he  thereby  could  obtain  such  scenes  (considered  merely 
in  respect  to  their  immediate  banks)  as  we  are  oftentimes  delighted 
with  in  natural  lakes  and  rivers.  It  happens,  however,  very  fortu- 
nately, that  many  of  those  circumstances  which  render  them  so  beautiful 
in  themselves,  serve  likewise  to  unite  them  with  the  rest  of  the  scenery, 
and  to  give  greater  effect  and  variety  to  the  more  distant  parts.  Bare 
shaven  banks  form  distinct  lines,  which  everywhere  mark  the  exact 
separation  of  the  two  elements,  but  partial  concealments  are  no  less  the 
sources  of  connection,  than  of  variety,  effect,  and  intricacy ;  for  by 
their  means  the  water  and  the  land,  the  nearer  and  the  more  distant 
parts,  are  blended  and  united  with  each  other. 

The  effects  of  water  are  always  so  attractive,  that  wherever  there  is 
any  appearance  of  it  in  a  landscape,  whether  real  or  painted,  to  that 
part  the  eye  is  irresistibly  carried,  and  to  that  it  always  returns.  All 
the  objects  immediately  around  it  are  consequently  most  examined  ;— 
where  they  are  ugly  or  insipid,  the  whole  scene  is  disgraced ;  but  where 
they  are  interesting,  their  influence  seems  to  extend  over  the  whole 
scenery,  which  thence  assumes  a  character  of  beauty  that  does  not 
naturally  belong  to  it. 

This  strong  attractive  power  of  water,  while  it  shows  how  much  the 
immediate  banks  ought  to  be  studied,  suggests  likewise  another  con- 
sideration with  regard  to  its  position  in  the  general  view  from  the  house.' 
In  places  where  the  views  are  confined  to  the  nearer  objects,  the  water,  as 
at  Blenheim,  frequently  occupies  a  very  considerable  portion  of  the 
scenery,  and  mixes  with  almost  every  part  of  it ;  but  where  from  a 
high  station  the  eye  surveys  a  more  extended  country,  the  appearance 
of  water  which  may  be  produced  by  art,  bears  no  proportion  to  that 
extent,  though  it  may  greatly  enliven  parts  of  it.    In  such  situations, 

s 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


therefore,  the  placing  of  the  water  ought  very  much  to  be  guided  by  the 
objects,  whether  near  or  distant,  to  which  it  will  serve  as  a  sort  of  focus. 
It  may  happen,  for  instance,  that  the  parts  which  would  be  most  easily 
floated  are  placed  amidst  open  common  fields,  amidst  hedges  without 
trees,  or,  what  is  worse,  with  stripped  elms,  or  pollard  willows  ;  that 
they  are  backed  by  hills  of  bad  shapes,  and  divided  by  square  map-like 
enclosures.  A  piece  of  water  in  that  situation  would  infallibly  draw  the 
attention  towards  those  objects,  which  otherwise  might  have  escaped 
notice  ;  and  the  eye,  though  it  might  be  hurt  by  them,  will  still  be 
forced  towards  that  part — for  our  eyes,  like  moths,  will  always  be 
attracted  by  light,  and  no  experience  can  prevent  them  from  returning 
to  it.  On  that  account,  the  position  of  water  can  never  be  a  matter  of 
indifference.  If  the  size  of  it  be  considerable,  and  the  objects  in  that 
direction  ugly  or  uninteresting,  it  will  make  their  defects  more  con- 
spicuous, but  by  no  means  compensate  those  defects.  On  the  other  hand, 
the  smallest  appearance  of  water,  a  mere  light  in  the  landscape,  may 
answer  a  very  essential  purpose — that  of  leading  the  attention  to  those 
parts  which  are  most  worthy  of  notice  ;  and,  therefore,  wherever  there 
are  the  happiest  groups  of  trees  or  buildings,  the  richest  distances,  the 
most  pleasing  boundaries  of  hills  or  mountains,  in  that  direction  the 
water,  if  possible,  should  be  placed,  so  as  to  blend  with  them  into  one 
composition.  It  will  then  serve,  not  merely  as  a  brilliant  light  in  the 
landscape,  but  likewise  as  a  bond  which  unites  all  those  parts  together  ; 
whereas,  if  it  be  placed  at  a  distance  from  them,  the  eye  is  distracted 
between  objects  which  it  would  like  to  fix  upon,  and  a  fascinating 
splendour,  the  influence  of  which  it  cannot  resist.  . 

I  now  return  from  this  more  general  consideration,  to  that  of  the 
banks  of  water  in  a  flat ;  and  where  also  the  ground  through  which  it 
is  to  be  made,  not  only  is  without  any  variety  of  heights  and  breaks, 
but  even  without  any  thickets  or  bushes,  of  which  advantage  might  be 
taken  for  the  purposes  of  concealment  and  of  naturalness.  By  what 
means,  then,  could  a  piece  of  water  be  formed  in  such  a  situation,  so  as 
to  be  interesting  in  itself,  and  to  give  an  interest  to  all  that  surrounds 
it  ?  I  shall,  in  this  inquiry,  pursue  something  of  the  same  method  I 
have  already  taken,  and  consider  how  a  natural  river,  according  to  its 
different  accompaniments,  might  look  in  such  a  situation.  Let  us, 
therefore,  suppose  a  natural  river,  about  the  usual  size  of  those  made 
by  art,  to  pass  slowly  through  the  middle  of  a  large  flat  meadow, 
totally  without  trees  or  bushes  of  any  kind ;  but  having  the  part  of  its 
banks  between  the  general  level  of  the  grass  and  that  of  the  water, 
worn  and  broken  in  various  degrees.    Such  a  river  would  certainly 


OX  ARTIFICIAL  WATER  275 

have  very  few  attractions ;  but  still  the  banks  would  have  some  di- 
versity, though  of  a  rude  and  uninteresting  kind.  If  one  of  Mr. 
Brown's  followers  were  desired  to  dress  such  a  scene,  he  would,  of 
course,  slope  all  those  banks  regularly  and  uniformly  to  the  edge  of 
the  water — an  operation  by  which  they  would  lose  indeed  their  rude- 
ness, but  with  it  all  variety  of  surface.  Again,  the  banks  of  the  natural 
river  might  have  many  irregular  turns  and  projections,  which,  not  being 
disguised  and  softened  by  trees  or  bushes,  would  give  a  harshness  to 
the  outline.  Those  of  Mr.  Brown's  improved  river  would,  on  the 
other  hand,  be  moulded  into  regular  curves  equally  undisguised,  which 
would  therefore  appear  in  all  their  insipid  sameness — and  this.  I  think, 
is  a  fair  parallel  between  one  of  Nature's  worst  rivers,  and  the  best  of 
Mr.  Brown's.  Such.  then,  would  be  their  respective  appearance  when 
naked  and  undisguised ;  and  were  they  left  to  grow  wild  for  some 
years,  and  the  wood  which  might  spring  up  preserved,  still  their  dis- 
tinct characters  would  be  apparent.  In  the  natural  bank,  the  irregular 
turns,  the  inlets  with  projections  of  crumbling  soil  being  partially  con- 
cealed or  disguised  by  vegetation,  would  occasion  some  degree  of 
variety  and  intricacy ;  while,  in  the  other,  the  regularity  of  the  curves, 
and  the  monotony  of  the  slopes,  would  always  be  perceived,  always 
have  the  same  insipid  artificial  appearance. 


To  take  it  again  in  another  light.  Suppose  that  in  the  same  level 
country  the  windows  of  the  house  looked  down  the  reach  of  a  natural 
river,  both  the  banks  of  which  were  completely  fringed  with  flourishing 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


trees  and  underwood — the  ground  on  each  side  being  a  Hat  meadow  a- 
before.  This  total  fringe,  though  in  many  respects  very  beautiful,  the 
owner  might  justly  think  too  uniform  and  absolute  a  screen.  He 
therefore  would  observe  what  parts  of  it  should  be  thinned  or  cut 
down,  in  order  to  let  in  the  most  interesting  circumstances  of  the 
ground  behind,  whether  trees,  buildings,  distant  hills,  or  other  objects : 
he  might  in  some  places  smooth  and  slope  the  banks,  though  not  in  too 
gardener-like  a  style ;  and,  in  others,  allow  the  trees  he  had  cut  down 
to  spring  up  again,  as  a  present  rich  covering,  which  might  afterwards 
be  thinned  and  grouped  at  pleasure.  In  examining  the  banks  on  which 
this  fringe  was  growing,  he  might  perhaps  find  that  some  parts  of  it, 
from  whatever  cause,  whether  of  soil  having  been  thrown  up,  or  from 
original  formation,  were  higher  than  the  rest ;  and  these  risings,  he 
might  find,  not  only  produced  a  pleasing  variety  when  seen  from  the 
river,  but  likewise  made  a  rich  and  varied  termination  in  the  view 
from  the  meadow  towards  the  water.  Would  he,  in  such  a  case,  have 
a  thought  of  destroying  the  risings,  of  grubbing  up  the  wood,  and  level- 
ling the  ground,  in  order  to  preserve  everywhere  the  level  of  the 
meadow  ? — In  searching  amidst  the  thick  underwood,  he  might  find 
large  roots  of  trees  which  projected  over  the  water,  supporting  the 
mould  above  and  behind  them  ;  while  the  water  had  washed  away  that 
below,  and  formed  a  deep  hollow  beneath.  By  partially  clearing  away 
some  of  the  boughs  which  concealed  these  roots,  he  might  give  to  the 
recesses  below  them  a  still  greater  appearance  of  depth,  and  lead  the 
eye  towards •  their  dark  shadows.  Were  there  no  other  objection  to 
Mr.  Brown's  pieces  of  made-water,  than  that  they  had  no  deep 
shadows,  that  would  alone  be  a  sufficient  condemnation.  But  I  will 
not  trust  myself  to  speak  of  their  effects — it  would  lead  me  too  far 
from  the  present  subject.  Were  the  improver,  then,  to  find  any  large 
stones  in  the  banks,  or  below  them  near  the  water  edge — and  such  are 
not  unfrequently  to  be  found  even  in  flat  situations — he  would  hardly 
think  of  inquiring  how  they  came  there,  and  whether  they  belonged 
originally  to  the  soil,  but  consider  only  how  he  could  profit  by  them, 
or  by  any  other  circumstances  which  might  produce  effect  and  variety, 
without  any  manifest  absurdity  or  unnaturalness. 

If,  then,  it  be  acknowledged  that  these  varieties  do  constitute  some  of 
the  principal  charms  of  natural  rivers  ;  if  where  they  exist,  are  happily 
disposed,  and  mixed  with  verdure  and  smoothness,  not  only  the  river 
itself  is  beautiful,  but  the  whole  country  from  its  influence  seems  to 
partake  of  that  character  ;  and  if,  on  the  other  hand,  where  there  is  a 
total  want  of  them,  there  must  be  total  monotony — what  should  prevent 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


277 


us  from  endeavouring  to  imitate  that  which  is  at  the  same  time  most 
natural  and  most  delightful,  instead  of  making  something,  which  has  no 
type  in  nature,  and  ought  to  have  none  in  art  ?  Can  it  be  said  that 
there  is  any  real  difficulty  in  executing  any  part  of  what  I  have 
described,  or  indeed  much  more  than  I  have  mentioned  ?  I  say  in  exe- 
cuting, for  difficulty  there  certainly  is  in  planning  and  directing  what 
is  to  be  a  principal  feature  in  a  real  landscape. 

[[However  unfavourable  such  a  flat  place  may  be  for  the  construction 
of  an  interesting  piece  of  water,  I  conceive  that  much  may  be  done  to 
effect  the  object  by  planting  alone.  To  attempt  to  lay  down  any  uni- 
versally applicable  rule  or  plan  for  such  a  creation,  would  manifestly  be 
most  absurd.  But  the  same  skill  and  judgment  that  could  effect  an 
interesting  combination  of  wood  and  lawn  in  such  a  situation,  might 
certainly  succeed  in  producing  interest  where  the  additional  ingredient 
of  water  was  allowed.  The  effect  would,  of  course,  entirely  depend 
upon  the  mode  in  which  the  various  irregular  sinuosities  of  the  shores 
were  formed  and  wooded — here,  with  trees  to  be  allowed  to  grow  tall 
and  spreading,  and  there,  with  a  thicker  jungle  of  lower  shrubs.  I  do 
not  think  that  such  a  piece  of  water  could  possibly  have  a  good  effect  if 
very  extensive ;  but,  on  a  small  scale,  its  reflections  at  least  would  be 
always  pleasing  and  animating. — E.] 

I  have  now  very  fully  explained  my  ideas  with  respect  to  the  manner 
in  which  the  banks  of  water  may  be  prepared,  so  that  time  and  accident 
may  produce  in  them  those  varieties  and  breaks,  which,  when  properly 
accompanied,  are  so  much  admired  by  painters.  I  have  likewise  shown 
how  other  circumstances,  usually  called  picturesque,  such  as  rocks,  stones, 
trunks  and  roots  of  trees,  &c.  may  be  added  to  them,  and  how  they  may 
be  blended  with  what  is  smooth  and  undulating.  The  last  finishing, 
that  which  gives  richness,  variety,  effect,  and  connection  to  the  whole — 
that  which  adds  a  charm  to  all  other  varieties,  and  which  alone,  when 
judiciously  managed,  will  in  a  great  degree  compensate  their  absence, 
is  planting.  The  connection,  and  partial  concealment  arising  from  wood, 
which  are  necessary  and  interesting  in  every  part  of  landscape,  are 
peculiarly  so  in  the  banks  of  water ;  but  the  degree  of  concealment 
which  is  required  for  the  purpose  of  softening  rudeness,  or  disguising 
monotony,  cannot  well  be  effected  without  a  large  proportion  of  trees 
of  a  lower  growth.  Although  I  have  dwelt  so  much  on  this  subject  in 
a  former  part,"  I  shall  have  occasion  not  only  to  apply  what  I  have 


*  Basay  on  the  Picturesque. 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICK 


there  said  to  the  particular  points  I  am  now  discussing,  but  also  still 
further  to  enlarge  upon  it. 

In  forming  the  banks  of  artificial  water  through  a  flat  piece  of  ground, 
those  who  absolutely  condemn  Mr.  Brown's  regular  curves  and  slopes, 
might  still  widely  differ  from  each  other  as  to  the  degree,  and  the  sort 
of  variety  that  could  with  propriety  be  introduced.  One  improver 
might  like  every  kind  of  enrichment,  even  in  such  a  situation ;  another 
only  some  variation  in  the  height  of  the  banks  ;  a  third,  again,  might 
think  that  any  such  variation  of  the  ground  itself  would  not  accord  with  the 
flatness  of  the  surrounding  country  ;  and  so  long  as  artificial  monotony 
and  baldness  are  excluded,  each  of  these  styles  may  have  its  merits  and 
its  beauties ;  but  the  improver  who  was  least  fond  of  variety,  and  who 
objected  to  any  difference  of  height  in  the  banks  themselves,  might  still 
wish  to  break  and  conceal  their  uniformity  by  means  of  wood.  Were 
he,  however,  to  plant  forest  trees  alone,  and  at  the  distance  they  ought 
to  remain  when  full  grown,  they  would  for  many  years  look  poor  and 
scattered  ;  and  were  he  to  plant  a  number  of  them  together,  they  would, 
if  left  thick  as  they  usually  are,  be  drawn  up  to  poles,  and  the  same- 
ness of  the  ground  beyond  them  would  be  seen  between  their  stems. 
Should  he  cut  many  of  them  down,  and  let  the  underwood  grow,  still 
that  method,  though  of  great  use,  will  not  completely  answer  the  pur- 
pose ;  for  the  underwood  of  forest  trees  would  in  a  few  years  grow  tall 
and  bare,  would  require  to  be  again  cut  down,  again  to  be  guarded  from 
animals  ;  but  thorns  and  hollies  continue  thick  and  bushy,  and,  what  is 
of  great  consequence,  always  subordinate  to  the  higher  growths  ;  so 
that  with  the  most  perfect  closeness  and  concealment  at  bottom,  there 
may  be  the  greatest  variety  and  freedom  of  outline  at  top.  If  a  mixture 
of  low  bushy  plants  be  of  such  use  in  disguising  a  level  surface,  it  is  no 
less  requisite  where  any  risings  are  artificially  made  in  the  bank ;  for 
the  crude  manifest  attempt  at  artificial  variety,  is  much  worse  than 
natural  unaffected  sameness;  and,  lastly,  where  roots  and  stones  are 
placed  for  picturesque  effect,  a  disguise  of  low,  bushy,  and  trailing 
plants,  is  still  more  necessary. 

But  the  advantage  of  this  method  of  planting  extends  much  further 
than  the  immediate  banks ;  and  as  the  character  of  water  (con- 
sidered as  part  of  a  composition)  is  very  much  affected  by  all  the 
grounds  which  surround  it,  and  with  which  it  can  be  combined  into  the 
same  landscape,  some  additional  remarks  on  the  planting  of  such 
grounds  may  not  be  improper  in  this  place  ;  and,  indeed,  as  the  prin- 
cipal change  in  all  places  is  made  by  means  of  planting,  the  superiority 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


279 


vjf  this  method  can  hardly  be  placed  in  too  many  points  of  view.  Should, 
then,  the  ground  on  each  side  of  the  water  be  either  flat,  or,  what  per- 
haps is  scarcely  less  unvaried,  uniformly  sloping,  still  a  great  degree 
of  variety  and  intricacy  may  be  given  to  it,  by  means  of  the  style  of 
planting  I  have  just  mentioned.  There  are,  for  instance,  many  parts  of 
forests  quite  flat,  yet  full  of  intricacy  and  variety — from  what  cause  ? 
Certainly  from  the  mixture  of  thorns,  yews,  hollies,  hazels,  &c,  with  the 
larger  trees ;  these  form  thickets,  which  often  so  variously  cross  behind 
each  other,  that  the  lawns  among  them  are  bounded,  yet  no  one  can 
ascertain  the  lines  of  the  boundary  ;  the  eye  is  limited,  yet  appears  to 
be  free  and  unconfined,  and  wanders  into  the  openings  of  the  thickets 
themselves,  and  those  between  them.  Contrast  all  this  with  a  lawn  of 
Mr.  Brown's  ;  the  uncertain  and  perpetually  varying  boundary  of  the 
one,  with  the  regular  line  of  the  plantation  or  belt  that  hems  in  the  other  ; 
contrast  the  thickets  themselves,  each  a  model  of  intricacy  and  variety, 
with  the  clump  of  large  trees  only,  as  perfect  a  model  of  baldness  and 
monotony.  By  planting  a  mixture  of  the  different  growths,  sometimes 
in  largo  extended  plantations,  to  be  separated  afterwards  into  groups 
and  thickets  with  various  inlets  and  openings  ;  sometimes  in  smaller 
masses,  arranging  them  so  as  to  cross,  and,  as  it  were,  to  lap  over  each 
other,  with  passages  of  various  breadths  between  them,  the  variety  of 
forest  lawns  might  be  given  to  those  near  a  house,  yet  the  neatness  of 
a  dressed  lawn  be  preserved ;  and  water  so  backed,  would  not  need  a 
continued  fringe  for  the  purpose  of  concealing  what  was  behind.  Such 
future  groups  and  thickets,  as  they  must  be  prepared  by  being  dug  and 
fenced,  will  at  first  look  heavy  and  formal,  but  the  circumstance  of  the 
different  growths  is  a  sure  preservative  against  the  incurable  sameness 
and  insulated  appearance  of  clumps,  as  they  are  usually  planted  and  left. 

The  same  reflection,  which  before  occurred  in  describing  the  imme- 
diate banks,  again  occurs  on  a  more  extended  scale,  namely,  that  this 
method,  which  can  give  such  diversity  to  an  absolute  flat,  is,  if  possible, 
still  more  useful  where  there  are  slight  inequalities  in  the  midst  of  a 
large  space  of  lawn.  A  few  forest  trees  placed  on  such  small  swellings, 
look  meagre  and  scattered — a  number  of  them  heavy  and  uniform — and 
neither  of  them  mark  or  accord  with  the  character  of  those  lesser 
risings ;  but  the  lower  and  more  bushy  plants  both  agree  with  the  size 
of  such  swellings  of  ground,  and  humour  and  characterise  their  undula- 
tions, while  a  few  of  the  larger  trees,  mixed  with  them,  give  variety 
and  consequence  to  the  general  outline.  These  massive,  yet  diversified 
plantations,  form  divisions  and  compartments  on  which  the  eye  can 
dwell  with  pleasure ;  they  vary,  without  stuffing  up,  the  large  uninter- 


280 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


esting  spaces  of  which  lawns  and  parks  are  too  often  composed,  and 
from  which  arises  that  bare  and  meagre  sameness,  so  opposite  to  the 
richness  and  diversity  of  many  of  the  forest  lawns. 

[Nothing  can  be  more  important  to  the  landscape  improver  than  an 
earnest  attention  to  these  few  most  sensible  observations.  I  have  often 
remarked  in  grounds  some  beautiful  knoll  spoiled  in  its  effect  by  an 
uniform  and  dense  plantation  of  forest  trees  all  over  it,  where  a  little 
attention  at  the  time  of  planting,  might  have  left  it  with  irregular 
groups  of  the  taller  timber  in  some  places,  intermingled  with  those  of 
lower  growths  in  others,  so  as  to  produce  a  waving  and  broken  outline. 
Then  we  often  find,  that  when  a  knoll  has  been  so  spoiled  in  the  plant- 
ing, instead  of  the  improver  attempting  to  amend  it  by  taking  out  irre- 
gular portions  of  the  taller  growths,  and  introducing  thorns,  hollies, 
and  other  lower  growths  instead  of  them,  we  see  the  whole  grove  thinned 
out  regularly  in  every  part,  and  the  stems  of  the  trees  bared  in  such  a 
manner,  that  the  light  flickers  continually  through  among  them  as  one 
moves  along,  so  as  to  produce  absolute  pain  to  the  organs  of  vision. — E.] 

It  may,  perhaps,  be  said,  that  thickets,  though  very  proper  in  forests, 
and,  perhaps,  in  parks,  are  not  in  character  with  a  lawn,  or  with  such 
dressed  ground  as  artificial  water  is  generally  made  in.  This  opinion 
I  wish  to  examine,  for  the  notion  that  a  lawn,  or  any  meadow  or  pas- 
ture-ground near  the  house,  ought  to  be  kept  quite  open  and  clear  from 
any  kind  of  thickets,  has  been  one  very  principal  cause  of  the  bareness 
I  have  so  often  had  occasion  to  censure.  It  is  probable  that  the  first 
idea  of  a  lawn  may  have  arisen  from  the  openings  of  various  sizes 
which  are  found  in  forests  and  old  parks,  and  that  these  openings  were 
the  original  objects  of  imitation,  in  copying  which,  improvers  have  had 
the  same  degree  of  success  as  in  their  imitations  of  natural  rivers,  and 
from  the  same  cause — that  of  never  studying  their  models.  If  it  be  true 
that  many  of  these  forest  lawns  have  every  variety  that  can  be  wished  for, 
whether  in  the  disposition  of  their  boundaries,  in  their  groups,  or  their 
single  trees ;  that  the  yews,  thorns,  hollies,  &c,  produce  richness  and 
concealment,  and  often,  as  far  as  they  are  concerned,  a  very  dressed 
appearance ;  if  the  larger  trees  add  loftiness  and  grandeur,  while  the 
frequent  change  from  thickets  to  trees  and  bushes,  either  single  or  in 
open  groups,  no  less  produces  variety — what  is  the  objection  to  making 
such  scenes  the  principal  objects  of  study  and  imitation,  where  similar 
effects  are  meant  to  be  created,  and  where  they  certainly  would  be 
admired  ?  Should  it  happen,  for  example,  that  in  parts  of  the  rising 
ground  of  a  lawn  intended  to  be  highly  dressed,  groups  of  thorns  and 
hollies  were  mixed  with  the  oaks  and  beeches,  is  there  any  one  with 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


281 


the  least  taste  for  natural  beauties  who  would  totally  extirpate  them, 
and  clear  round  all  the  larger  trees  ? — is  there  any  one  who  would  not 
delight  in  such  a  mixture — who  would  not  show  it  as  one  of  the  most 
pleasing  objects  in  that  part  of  his  place  ?  If  so,  why  not  strive  to  create 
what  we  should  be  proud  of  if  placed  by  accident  ?  With  regard  to 
thickets  not  being  suited  to  dressed  scenery,  what,  let  me  ask,  are  those 
clumps  of  shrubs  and  trees  of  different  growths,  which  at  Blenheim 
and  other  places,  are  in  the  most  polished  parts  of  the  garden  ?  They 
are  thickets  in  point  of  concealment  and  of  variety  in  the  outline  of 
the  summit,  and  so  far  they  differ  from  those  clumps  which  are  planted 
with  the  larger  trees  only ;  their  difference  from  the  forest  thicket  is, 
that  they  are  chiefly  composed  of  exotics,  and  that,  from  the  original 
line  of  the  digging  being  preserved,  and  from  their  never  having  been 
thinned  by  means  of  cutting,  or  of  the  bite  of  animals,  they  remain  in 
one  uniform  round  or  oval.  Were  such  clumps  thinned,  and  inlets 
made  by  a  judicious  improver,  and  were  the  line  of  digging  effaced, 
they  would  soon  have  the  variety  of  forest  thickets ;  and,  on  the  other 
hand,  were  a  forest  thicket  dug  round,  planted  up,  and  preserved,  it 
would  soon  have  the  heaviness  and  formality  of  a  garden  clump.  The 
forest  thicket  has,  therefore,  a  great  advantage  in  point  of  variety  and 
playfulness  of  outline — and  perhaps  the  mixture  of  oak  and  beech,  with 
yew,  thorn,  and  holly,  were  there  no  other  varieties,  is  not  inferior  in 
real  beauty  to  any  mixture  of  exotics.  What,  then,  ought  to  be  the 
difference  between  the  forest  thicket,  and  that  which  might  be  intro- 
duced in  a  lawn  ?  Exactly  the  difference  which  characterises  the  two 
scenes.  The  one  is  wild,  rough,  and  neglected ;  the  other  smooth  and 
cultivated.  In  the  lawn,  therefore,  brambles  and  briers  that  crawl  on 
the  surface,  and  whatever  gives  a  rude  and  neglected  look,  should  be 
extirpated,  and  the  grass  encouraged ;  and  by  such  means,  while  the 
rude  entangled  look  of  a  brake  is  destroyed,  richness,  variety,  and  con- 
cealment, may  be  created  or  preserved.  But  even  if  it  were  a  settled 
point  that  nothing  but  timber  trees  ought  to  have  place  in  a  lawn, 
still  the  best  method  of  raising  them  so  as  to  produce  present  effect 
without  future  injury,  would  be  to  mix  a  large  proportion  of  the  lower 
growths,  till  the  timber  trees  were  grown  to  a  sufficient  size  ;  and  then, 
if  he  who  should  then  view  their  effect  altogether  could  give  such  an 
order,  every  thing  round  them  might  be  cleared. 

In  recommending  extirpation  I  have  confined  my  remark  to  those 
plants  which  crawl  on  the  surface ;  as  it  is  from  that  circumstance  that 
they  have  a  rude  and  neglected  appearance,  however  they  may  suit  the 
painter  as  a  foreground  ;  but  where  any  flexible  plants  have  climbed 
up  trees,  they  are  highly  ornamental  ;  nor  can  any  thing  be  richer  or 


282 


SIR  UVEDALE  PRICE 


gayer,  than  wild  roses,  or  clusters  of  berries  intermixed  with  foliage, 
and  hanging  from  it  in  festoons.  Then  as  the  grass  may  be  kept  neat 
about  their  stems,  they  do  not  give  the  idea  of  slovenly  neglect. 

In  speaking  of  artificial  hillocks,  I  have  confined  myself  to  those 
which  might  be  made  on  the  immediate  banks  of  water.  It  would 
certainly  be  much  more  hazardous  to  try  such  an  experiment  on  a  more 
extended  surface  ;  still,  I  think,  that  where  a  great  deal  is  to  be  dug  out 
in  order  to  make  the  water — where  there  is  more  earth  than  is  wanting 
for  the  head,  and  where  the  ground  is  unvaried — such  artificial  risings 
might  be  made  with  good  effect,  and  without  appearing  unnatural.  I 
judge,  in  some  degree,  from  what  I  have  seen  accidentally  produced  : 
it  sometimes  happens  in  stony  arable  grounds,  that  the  stones,  with 
clods  of  earth,  weeds,  and  rubbish,  have  been  heaped  up  at  different 
times,  and  have  formed  irregular  hillocks,  which  being  unfit  for  cultiva- 
tion, remain  untouched  )  and  trees,  bushes,  fern,  and  gorse,  spring  up 
in  many  parts  of  them.  These  hillocks  are  artificial ;  but  not  being 
intended  for  beauty,  they  are  neither  artificially  formed,  nor  planted  ; 
and  consequently  have  the  perfect  appearance  of  being  natural.  I  have 
often  been  struck  with  the  great  richness  of  such  banks  at  a  considerable 
distance,  and  from  a  number  of  points;  and  have  been  surprised  on 
examining  them,  to  find  how  slight  a  rise  of  ground,  when  planted  by 
the  hand  of  nature,  seemed  to  elevate  and  give  consequence  to  that  part. 
I  have  been  quite  deceived  in  regard  to  their  depth — have  gone  round 
them,  and  though  undeceived  as  to  the  reality,  still  observed  with 
pleasure  the  same  appearance.  Such  is  the  effect  of  these  artless  plan- 
tations, the  fruits  of  accident,  but  which  it  would  be  the  perfection  of 
design  to  imitate.  Art  generally  opposes  either  an  uniformly  thick, 
and  therefore  a  suspected  screen,  or  one,  (which  to  use  Milton's  lan- 
guage,) is  thin  with  excessive  thickness — 

"  Dark  with  excessive  bright." 
and  through  which  the  ground  behind  is  unpleasantly  discovered  ;  but 
in  these  works  of  accident,  the  many  partial  openings  and  inlets  seem 
to  invite  the  eye,  while  something  still  prevents  it  from  penetrating  too 
far  into  their  recesses.  Many  different  hillocks  have  been  raised  by 
art,  in  various  ways  and  for  various  purposes  ; — some  of  them  without 
any  connection  with  the  surrounding  land  ;  yet  still,  when  enriched  and 
disguised  by  wild,  irregular  vegetation,  they  have,  in  almost  every  in- 
stance, something  in  their  appearance,  which  few  would  wish  to  part 
with.  There  are  often,  likewise,  broad  and  high  ridges,  formed  by  old 
meers  and  hedgerows,  that  interrupt  the  natural  flow  of  the  ground,  but 
which  under  similar  circumstances  have  an  equally  good  effect ;  and  I 
have  particularly  observed  meadows  near  rivers,  uniformly  surrounded 


ON  ARTIFICIAL  WATER. 


with  banks  of  that  kind,  which  yet  formed  the  most  striking  and  pleas- 
ing features  in  the  whole  landscape. 

The  word  hillock,  is,  I  believe,  in  general  confined  to  natural  swell- 
ings of  ground.  I  have,  however,  the  authorit